Each year, WLA’s Steering Committee sets its policy priorities to guide our coalition’s advocacy efforts. We work together with our partners to advance legislation and policy initiatives that protect our working lands and promote agricultural viability.
Our priorities in 2016 are focused on three primary areas:
- Increase pace of statewide farmland protection efforts and maximize state and federal investment in farmland preservation programs.
- Advocate for funding and staff resources needed for the Department of Agriculture and other state agencies that provide critical programs and support to Connecticut farmers and farm businesses
- Identify means to expand farmland access and affordability and educate lawmakers about agricultural viability issues.
Within these areas, WLA will focus again on protecting the integrity of the Community Investment Act and agency funding for the Department of Agriculture, both of which may face cuts as the state addresses projected budget deficits for FY17 and beyond. WLA will also advocate for creative strategies and robust partnerships that will help accelerate the pace of farmland protection in Connecticut. This includes working with the Commissioner of Agriculture and staff to implement recommendations made by the Farmland Preservation Advisory Board’s Best Practices Subcommittee, aimed at increasing the pace of closings for our Farmland Preservation Program.
WLA also supports a Constitutional Amendment to better protect our state-held conservation and agricultural lands and the concept of legislation enabling municipalities to collect up to a 1% conveyance fee on buyers to support the protection of farmland and open space.
Finally, WLA will continue efforts to identify means to expand farmland access and affordability. This includes exploring tax incentives, beginning farmer loan programs, and other policy tools that can help ‘next generation’ farmers secure access to land. WLA will also advocate for adjustments to the FarmLink Program and Farmland Restoration Program statutes to expand their impact and improve program delivery.