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State on pace to preserve 20 farms in 2010

By Governor Rell's Office Press Release (11/19/10)

  NOVEMBER 20, 2010 --

Governor M. Jodi Rell announced Thursday that the state is on pace to preserve more than 20 farms in 2010, allowing more than 2,000 acres to remain in agriculture and sustain Connecticut’s ability produce food, protect habitat and create viable farming communities. Since the Governor took office in July 2004, her Administration has preserved 74 farms for a total of 7,789 acres.

The Governor made the announcement at Bushy Hill Orchard in Granby. New owners Becky and Allen Clark bought the operation which had been slated to be turned into a cemetery and the state recently purchased the development rights to keep the 70-acre operation a working farm in perpetuity.

“Agriculture is our first and oldest industry and Connecticut farmers are the epitome of resourcefulness and resilience. In the face of some of the worst economic times in recent memories they continue to endure. We owe it to this $3.5 billion industry and the jobs it creates to support our farm families as much as possible,” Governor Rell said. “I have made it one of my top priorities over the past six years to support our farms, to save the land they need and quality of life they provide that is uniquely Connecticut.”

Under Governor Rell’s leadership since 2004, the state has invested more than $53 million for farmland preservation and the Community Investment Act (CIA), which provides grants for municipal open space preservation and, most recently, financial assistance for Connecticut dairy farmers. The Rell Administration has invested more in farmland preservation than any previous governor since the program began in 1979.

Connecticut has the second oldest farmland preservation program in the country, preserving development rights of its first farm in 1979. The Governor said the state’s goal is to preserve 130,000 acres of farmland with 85,000 acres dedicated to growing crops. To date, about 270 farms totaling more than 36,000 acres have been preserved or approved for preservation.

“The farmland preservation program offers families, such as the Clarks, an opportunity to add to the growing agriculture communities we are establishing around the state,” Governor Rell said. “When we preserve farmland, we do so with a smart growth approach. Farms that operate near each are more cost effective and those benefits are passed on to consumers. It is essential we have programs in place to give those families who want to farm real alternatives to selling the land for development.”

Commissioner F. Philip Prelli said when the state purchases a farm’s development rights, it places a permanent restriction on the use of the land. The land can never be used for non-agricultural purposes. The farms stay under private ownership and continue to pay local property taxes.

“The strength of Connecticut agriculture is its diversity and quality,” Commissioner Prelli said. “The demand for locally grown food continues to increase. When the Connecticut consumer buys locally, it keeps down transportation costs and keeps our farmers in business.”

Earlier this week Governor Rell received a “Farmland Preservation Legacy Award,” from Working Lands Alliance is a statewide coalition dedicated to raising awareness of the need and importance of saving Connecticut's farmland. The coalition's members include farmers, environmentalists, anti-hunger advocates, chefs, and historic preservationists.

"Governor Rell's unwavering support for farmland preservation has led to a dramatic acceleration of land protection activity and fueled an increase in high quality farm applications to the state program, demonstrating her firm belief in the long-term future of a viable agriculture industry," said Terry Jones, WLA Chairman. 


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