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Legislatively Speaking
CSG testifies for Farmland Preservation
 

By Alma Graham, Legislative Director

  MARCH 2, 2011 --

In February, Gordon Gibson who is the Legislative Liaison for the State Grange testified at a hearing for HB5202, an Act Authorizing the Issuance of Bonds for Farmland Preservation.  This is a committee bill that was raised by the Environmental Committee.  The bill asks for bonding funds of $20 million for the Department of Agriculture to purchase development rights of farms.  In Gordon’s testimony, he pointed out that Connecticut’s agriculture industry is big business which provides approximately 20,000 full time jobs and contributes $3.5 billion annually to Connecticut’s economy.  

The Farmland Preservation Program has been in existence for 32 years and has acquired, or has under contract, the development rights of 283 farms for a total of 37,262 acres.  Unfortunately also in those 32 years we have irretrievably lost 225,000 to 250,000 acres of farmland to development.  The goal of the program is to protect 85,000 acres of cropland and 130,000 acres of farmland in Connecticut.  In 2010 alone it preserved 16 farms for a total of 1,371 acres doubling its number from two years ago.

The Farmland Preservation Program is partially funded through the Community Investment Act which is derived from land recording fees.  This is in addition to state bonds.  These state funds are often used to leverage additional funding through the USDS Natural Resource Conservation Service.  Jay Mar, who is the newly appointed USDA State Conservationist for Connecticut, recently commented at a legislative breakfast sponsored by Very Alive that he was very impressed with the amount of funding that Connecticut has been able to obtain over the years.  Currently there are 13 towns and 6 counties throughout Connecticut with farmland protected.

By preserving these prime lands we are protecting the future of agriculture in Connecticut and our rural heritage.  Connecticut consumers will be able to buy more local products directly from farms or local farmers markets as well as businesses. This will be a plus for the farmers, our agricultural business, the environment and Connecticut’s economy.   For more information on the Connecticut Department of Agriculture’s Farmland Preservation Program go to http://ct.gov/doag/cwp/view.asp?a=3260&q=399016 or on the Connecticut Farmland Trust’s web site http://ctfarmland.org/.

On March 16, 2011 the annual Agricultural Day will be held at the State Capitol.  The State Grange will be hosting a display that the Agricultural Committee will be doing.  All are invited to stop up at the Capitol and see the different displays by a variety of agricultural organizations and meet with your legislators.

On a National level, the U.S Farm Bill reauthorization for 2012 is being shaped and will be a focus this year.  This bill will set regulations and funding for farm related programs.  For Connecticut, we will be represented at the National level by Congressman, Joe Courtney, of the Connecticut second district who has recently been appointed to the House Agriculture Committee.  He will be serving on two different subcommittees; the Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Subcommittee and the General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittee.  Rep. Rosa DeLauro of the Connecticut third congressional district had been serving as chairman of the Appropriation’s Agricultural Subcommittee where she remains as a member.   Representative DeLauro has been a strong agricultural supporter in the past and I expect she will remain so.  I will pass on information on the progress of this bill as it is received.

 
 
 

 
     
     
       
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