As Connecticut’s General Assembly wraps up the 2018 legislative session, Working Lands Alliance is actively watching a bill that could have a major impact on the future of the state’s farmland.
SB-102, An Act Concerning Minor Revisions to Environmental Protection and Agriculture-Related Statutes, includes a new “Buy/Protect/Sell” effort by the Connecticut Department of Agriculture as well as seeks a statutory clarification of its authority to do so. WLA fully support this bill as we believe the statutory change will give the Department needed flexibility to work with land conservation organizations to protect productive farmland and help transfer farms and farmland to the next generation of Connecticut farmers.
According to Maine Farmland Trust Buy/Protect/Sell (BPS) is a tool that protects farmland, even when landowners do not have the time and ability to work through the easement process. Buy/Protect/Sell approaches have been successfully used by land trusts in conjunction with state farmland preservation programs across the country. American Farmland Trust is working to encourage USDA’s Agricultural Conservation Easement Program to support such approaches with its funding.
This provision has been highly successful in other New England states including Maine. Buy/Protect/Sell provisions have been invaluable, not just for Maine’s older farmers and landowners who want to see their farm legacy continue, but to beginning farmers, since most of the properties are sold or leased to new farmers. The Buy/Protect/Sell statute in SB 102 will provide a way to reconfigure larger farms into smaller parcels that are more affordable to new farmers across the nutmeg state.
Here in Connecticut, we have Connecticut Farmland Trust, which is interested in partnering with the Department of Agriculture on Buy-Protect-Sell projects. If this statute is passed, CFT other agriculturally focused land trusts and the Department of Agriculture can work together in creating affordable farmland opportunities to our new and beginning farmers across the state. WLA strongly encourages the committee to support this statutory change.