The record heat and drought of 2022, and the ongoing impact of war, the pandemic, and inflation have resulted in a very challenging year for Connecticut’s farms. At the same time, sprawl development patterns have reemerged in many of our communities. The Working Lands Alliance and its diverse steering committee will continue to lead efforts to address these issues by increasing the pace of farmland preservation, promoting new tools to create affordable farmland access, and developing and improving State programs to increase farm viability through affordable climate-smart agricultural practices.
WLA’s advocacy and resulting success this past year have set the stage for developing and implementing a new generation of programs, tools, and assistance. Our landmark activities this year have included:
Promoted and Advanced State Support for Climate-Smart Agriculture
WLA worked with key legislators to advance a provision that made a historic investment in farmers’ efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Governor Lamont signed House Bill 5506 – An Act Adjusting the State Budget for the Biennium Ending June 30, 2023, Concerning Provisions Related to Revenue, School Construction, and Other Items to Implement the State Budget and Authorizing and Adjusting Bonds of the State in early May. The legislation provides up to $14 million (a combination of FY 2023 general funds and bond funds yet to be released by the bond Commission) in crucial funding that is needed to support climate-smart agriculture practices for farmers in CT. WLA published a Press Release which can be found here.
Continued to Educate CT State Officials and Law Makers on the Importance of Farmland Protection
During the fall of 2021, WLA worked with the CT Department of Agriculture – Farmland Preservation Advisory Board to bring in speakers that discussed the Option to Purchase at Agriculture Value provision and how the state could utilize the Buy/Protect/Sell tool. WLA also worked with the CT Green Bank to consider developing and administrating a Buy/Protect/Sell financing program that would be run through the state agency’s Environmental Infrastructure account. Creating and implementing a Buy/Protect/Sell financing program for the State of Connecticut would increase the pace of farmland protection and aid land trusts in purchasing farmland that becomes available on the speculative market. WLA will continue to advise the CT Green Bank on Buy/Protect/Sell best practices this upcoming year.
Engage and Educated Key Officials and Legislators in the Importance of Farmland Protection
Leading up to the 2022 legislative session, WLA engaged and educated key legislators and officials on the importance of farmland preservation to food security, economic development, social justice, ecosystem protection, and climate resiliency.
Right now, our voice is needed more than ever. Our advocacy work with farmers, who are our leaders in climate smart agriculture, is making a difference in Connecticut. Help us continue to support these efforts by donating today.
Your ongoing support and contribution at any level make a difference. On behalf of the Working Lands Alliance Steering Committee, thank you for your consideration.
With hope and gratitude,
Kip Kolesinskas and Jim Smith