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Legislatively Speaking
Legislatively Speaking: State Grange Ag. Alliances

By Alma Graham, CT State Grange Legislative Director

  February 1, 2020 --

The Connecticut State Grange has been in partnership with the Connecticut Farmland Trust for many years. Gordon Gibson is a member of that group’s board, representing the Connecticut State Grange. I asked Gordon for some information about the Connecticut Farmland Trust as well as the Working Land Alliance. We have been working with the Working Lands Alliance in Hartford communicating our objectives on various bills during the Legislative session. I want to thank Gordon for his many years of acting as our communicator at the Capitol and for his dedication to these groups as well as the Grange. The following is from Gordon.

Connecticut Farmland Trust (CFT) is a private statewide land trust dedicated to preserving Connecticut’s working farmlands with emphasis on the smaller farms that do not score high enough, because of their small size, to be considered in the State’s program. CFT raises all of its own money through donations from many organizations and individuals. CFT is classified by the IRS as a 501(c)3 organizations so donors can treat their donations as charitable gifts on their income tax returns. CFT operates very similarly to the State’s program and on occasion has assisted the State program. In one case the family needed to sell the farm to settle an estate but at that time the State did not have the authority to purchase farms but only easements. CFT did not have the funds to purchase the farm. The family did not want to see their farm turned into houses on small lots. The solution was to have the State purchase the development rights and then CFT purchased the property subject to the State’s newly acquired easement. CFT currently holds easements totaling approximately 3500 acres on 52 farms.  CFT also advises and aids other nonprofit organizations including municipalities in preserving farmland throughout Connecticut. This advisory program has resulted in the preservation of more than 1,000 additional acres. CFT is managed by an 18 members board of directors, three of whom are members of the Connecticut State Grange: Charlotte Hansen, CPA is Treasurer of CFT and Secretary of Stafford Grange No. 1. Gordon Gibson is a Past President of CFT and Overseer of Vernon Grange No. 52. John Kriz is chair of chairman of the CFT Nominations Committee and is also chairman of the Executive Committee of Cannon Grange No. 152.

The Working Lands Alliance (WLA) is a broad-based state wide coalition of agricultural and related organizations working together to preserve Connecticut’s farms and farmlands.  It originated as an informal group of lobbyists who compared each other’s testimony just prior to hearings before the Connecticut General Assembly in order to convey the maximum amount of information in the limited time each lobbyist was allowed to speak. WLA consists of farmers, planners, conservation organizations, local food activists, anti-hunger groups and others who care passionately about protecting Connecticut’s working lands. WLA staff routinely assists its member organizations, including the Connecticut State Grange, to prepare and distribute their testimony to members of both the Connecticut General Assembly and the United States Congress. Legally, WLA works as a project of American Farmland Trust to qualify as a 501(c)3 organization.

American Farmland Trust (AFT) is the only national conservation organization dedicate to protecting farmland, promoting sound farming practices and keeping farmers on the land. Because of the similarity of their names many people assume that Connecticut Farmland Trust is a unit of American Farmland Trust but the two organizations are not affiliated although they work closely together to achieve common goals.



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