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CT Farmland Preservation Doubles in Two Years

By CT Department of Agriculture Bulletin (2/2/11)

  FEBRUARY 9, 2011 --

The Farmland Preservation Program preserved 16 farms comprised of 1,371 acres in calendar year 2010 - double the amount protected in 2008, just two years earlier! This increased pace of farmland preservation is a direct result of record funding and staffing levels in the Program’s 32-year history, and helps realize Connecticut’s desire to maintain its agricultural diversity, local food security, and rural heritage.

A total of $10 million in state bonding was authorized in 2010. Funds from the Community Investment Act (CIA), derived from land record recording fees, helped purchase development rights to six farms at a cost of $1,102,367; remaining CIA funds helped support the Connecticut dairy industry through the economic downturn and maintain the staff in the Program to continue and accelerate the pace of farmland preservation. In 2008, development rights were purchased for just under $3.8 million on seven farms covering 675 acres, and program staff increased by two property agents. Farm preservation advocacy groups are honing in on a goal of 20 farms and 2,000 acres per year in the coming years.

Farms preserved in 2010 are located in 13 towns and six counties through- out Connecticut. Among the farms protected are two active dairies, seven that support the livestock industry, four farms in vegetable and fruit production, and the remaining three in grain, hay, tobacco, or some combination. The State completed four joint State-Town projects with local participation by the Towns of Granby, Ellington and Woodstock. Collaborating with the Connecticut Farmland Trust, the statewide conservation organization devoted to farmland preservation, a family farm in the Town of Sharon was protected. The State leveraged federal funding through the Farm & Ranch Lands Protection Pro- gram in the amount of $4,954,220 by entering a cooperative agreement for qualified farms with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Highlights in 2010 include a gift of development rights to a 15-acre farm in the Town of East Windsor through the generosity of the late Helen Edna Crane. Others, whose development rights were purchased, some below market value, may be exemplified by the year’s most memorable success story: Bushy Hill Farm in Granby. A 70-acre farm, Bushy Hill contains forty acres of fruit trees and shrubs, including apples, peaches, pears, raspberries and blueberries, five acres of vegetables, and a long-time family-friendly farm stand frequented by local residents and city dwellers. For years in the Law family, Bushy Hill Farm is also admired for its scenic vista and hillside and was nearly sold for use as a cemetery, and retired out of agriculture. Fortunately, the State was able to purchase development rights for $452,897 with funding in part by the Town of Granby aided by Granby Land Trust, and the federal Farm & Ranch Lands Protection Program. Subsequent to the sale of development rights, local farmers, Becky and Allen Clark who are active in vegetable, greenhouse flower and goat cheese production, were able to purchase the farm for its agricultural value and continue its use as a farm.

Since inception of the Program, development rights have been acquired, or are under contract for acquisition, on 283 farms totaling 37,262 acres. These farmlands are comprised of prime and statewide important farmland soils, with additional natural landscape features, such as forest and wetlands, which will be preserved in perpetuity for future generations of farmers and the well being of the people of Connecticut.

Acre by acre, the Program works towards the goal of protecting 85,000 acres of cropland on 130,000 acres of farmland in Connecticut. Good farmland is the raw material of producing food and farm products. Preserved farmland helps give farmers the opportunity at sustaining that business or putting it in the hands of future generations of farmers. We can all help them by buying local and direct at food outlets including the many farmers’ markets throughout the state. It’s good for the farmers, our agricultural business, the environment and state economy.

For an application or more information on the CT Department of Agriculture’s Farmland Preservation Program, please call 806.713.2511 or visit www.ct.gov/doag/site.


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