A Way To Save Farms - Land Acquisition Boards Could Help Towns Preserve Acreage

(Note: Please ask yourself, "What is the author REALLY saying?" This is classic language deception. Language deception words and phrases have been underlined for ease in spotting. This is nothing more than a land/resource Control Agenda and has Zero to do with 'saving farms'. Just look below the article to the organization and its 'members'. The author does has no interest in production agriculture or the physical or economic health of America; he does little beyond parrot the mantra of those driving the global runaway train, and is apparently a dyed-in-the-wool global control proponent.)

December 19, 2004
By Donald Francis farmerdonnie@aol.com
The Hartford Courant
Hartford, Connecticut
To submit a Letter to the Editor: letters@courant.com

When it comes to saving farms, we've lowered our sights.

The original goal, set in 1974, was the preservation of 325,000 of the 500,000 acres then available. Now the goal is 130,000 acres, and we aren't close to it.

The 1974 plan was to raise $500 million via a 1 percent tax on real estate transfers. That didn't fly. It took four years to get any kind of bill passed. In 1978, a Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) bill passed, authorizing $5 million in bond funds to begin the program. Since that time the program has struggled for adequate funding, with the result that in 26 years only 30,000 acres have been saved. This means we've gained 1,153 acres a year while we loose [sic]  between 7,000 and 9,000 acres a year to development. The program has suffered from chronic inability to secure bond funds. This is hardly a success story and bodes ill for our chances of getting the funds to purchase the rights to100,000 more acres before that land is developed.

Methods of funding other than bonding, which is subject to whims of the legislature, the governor and lobbyists for other interests, have been rejected. Dedicating a percentage of the sales tax or a tax on real estate conveyance [LAND ACQUISITION] is a politically tough sell.

Saving farmland must be a multi-program effort. The Working Lands Alliance, a consortium of more than 130 organizations, has been successful in having bond money released, obtaining a small amount of new bonding authorization and saving the state Department of Agriculture. The [WLA] has also created a spin-off organization, the Connecticut Farmland Trust, to give landowners another option in preserving farms and farmland.

Thankfully, many urban and rural legislators, as well as officials at the Office of Policy and Management and the Department of Economic and Community Development, have signed on to the effort, as has the Connecticut Council of Municipalities.
I would hope that the Department of Homeland Security would place a high priority on preserving our food-production capacity.

Across the state, cities and towns are now realizing that we are failing in our effort to preserve a precious resource and that subdivisions and commercial development are not only gobbling up farmland but also forever changing the aesthetics of the Connecticut countryside.

For years the state PDR [Purchase of Development Rights] program has offered to partner with towns when state funding was inadequate. The program has had limited success for two reasons: Towns don't trust the state, based on experiences in other areas, and it often takes two years or more to complete a purchase. It is more and more obvious that towns must take the lead.

How about another option?

I propose legislation that would allow towns to create land acquisition and management authorities.
Patterned after Recreation Authority legislation, it would give towns another option in saving farmland, creating affordable housing, promoting local businesses and maintaining community aesthetics.

Recreation authorities are given the power to acquire, purchase, lease, construct, improve, operate, sell and regulate the use of property. They also have the power to bond and borrow to raise funds.

An acquisition and management authority with these powers and others to help carry out its mission could do exciting things. It could purchase a farm and preserve the productive farmland. As almost every farm has nonproductive acreage, this in some cases could be subdivided into environmentally sensitive, energy-efficient housing sites. These lots would be sold to help offset the cost of the purchase of the farm. Homes close to guaranteed open space bring premium prices. Local real estate firms, builders and bankers could all participate in the process. It is possible to visualize such an authority creating agriculture clusters and retail markets with adjoining towns.

This way, farmers could retain their productive acreage with no risk of development. By selling development rights and developing some housing, the farm owner would have the money needed for retirement, family education or farm expansion. Farmers could be protected from nuisance suits, have nearby consumers and even provide employment opportunities for teenage neighbors.

A town with one farm, or those with numerous farms, could benefit from the program. The Department of Agriculture could offer technical advice and help design agriculture clusters.
If the state wished to offer incentives to communities to help reach the state goal, so much the better.

Best of all, it gives local government one more tool to preserve farmland and farms at no cost to the state.

Donald Francis was an extension agent in agriculture and community resource development at the University of Connecticut for 32 years. He is a former first selectman of Brooklyn and former chairman of the Working Lands Alliance.
Copyright 2004, The Hartford Courant.


Additional information of interest:

Donald Francis

605 Wolf Den Road

Brooklyn, CT 06234 

860-774-6489 or 860-296-9325



"The Working Lands Alliance was formed in 1999 as a multi-interest coalition with the sole purpose of preserving Connecticut’s most precious natural resource – its farmland.  Over 130 organizations representing concerns as diverse as hunger, the environment, and agriculture joined forces to educate the public and our state lawmakers about the loss of farmland and what we can do to protect it for future generations.  We invite you to join us in our efforts to ensure that our working lands will not just be a legacy of the past, but a promise for the future."

What is Working Lands Alliance? 

The Working Lands Alliance (WLA) is a broad-based coalition, whose supporters include farmers, conservation organizations, food security groups, local government associations, and others.  These groups (currently over 130) have joined together in an effort to halt the loss of Connecticut’s remaining farmland.  WLA is administered by the Hartford Food System, a private non-profit organization that addresses food concerns of Connecticut residents.

WLA Steering Committee

 CT State Grange
CT Farm Bureau Association
American Farmland Trust
John Filchek  john.reccog@snet.net Northeastern Connecticut Council of Governments
Farmer, Former Selectman of Brooklyn
John Guszkowski  jguszkowski@crcog.org Capitol Region Council of Governments
UConn Cooperative Extension System
Jones Family Farm
CT Trust For Public Land
End Hunger CT!
CT Assoc. of Conservation and Inland Wetlands Commissions
WLA Staff
Hartford Food System 

Source: http://www.workinglandsalliance.org/about.htm

Working Lands Alliance: "A Multi-interest Coalition Working to Preserve Connecticut's Farmland"


[Note: Just look at this list -- the Red Flags should be flying en masse!]

Aiki Farms
All Aboard!
American Farmland Trust

The American Institute of Wine & Food
American P.I.E. (Public Information on the Environment)
Appalachian Trail Conference Land Trust
Beardsley Organic Farm
Berkshire Litchfield Environmental Council
Bethlehem Conservation Commission
Bishop's Orchards
Break Hill Farm
Brooklyn Conservation Committee
Buffalo Hill Farm
Capitol Region Council of Governments Regional Planning Commission
Cheshire Land Trust
Citizens for Easton

City of Hartford Advisory Commission on Food Policy
Clover Springs Farm
Committee on the Environment, Episcopal Diocese of CT
Connecticut Agricultural and Natural Resources Association
Connecticut Anti-Hunger Coalition
Connecticut Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts
Connecticut Association of Conservation & Inland Wetlands Commissions
Connecticut Audubon Society
Connecticut Bicycle Coalition
Connecticut Catholic Conference
Connecticut Conservation Association, Inc.
Connecticut Council on Soil and Water Conservation
Connecticut Council of Small Towns
Connecticut Department of Agriculture, Farmland Preservation Program Connecticut Dietetic Association
Connecticut Farm Bureau Association
Connecticut Farm Fresh
Connecticut Farmland Trust
Connecticut Food Association
Connecticut Food Bank, Inc.
Connecticut Food Policy Council
Connecticut Forest & Park Association
Connecticut Fund for the Environment
Connecticut NOFA
Connecticut Ornithological Association
Connecticut Plein Air Painters Society
Connecticut Pomological Society
Connecticut Poultry Association, Inc.
Connecticut Preservation Action
Connecticut River Watershed Council, Inc.
Connecticut Rural Development Council
Connecticut Seafood Council
Connecticut State Grange
Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation
Darien Cheese & Fine Food
Earth First NE, LLC
Eastern Connecticut Forest Landowners Association/Wolf Den Land Trust
Eastern Connecticut Resource Conservation Development Council
Easton Farmland Preservation Committee
End Hunger Connecticut!
Essex Garden Club
Fairfield County Farm Bureau 
First Pioneer Farm Credit
Flamig Farm, Inc.
Flanders Nature Center and Land Trust
Foodshare, Inc.
Graywall Farms
Great Meadows Conservation Trust, Inc.
Greater Bridgeport Regional Planning Agency
Groton Open Space Association
Guilford Agricultural Society, Inc
Half Mile Acres Farm
Hartford County Farm Bureau
Hartford Food System
Hartford Tenants Rights Federation, Inc.
Housatonic River Commission
Housatonic Valley Association
Interreligious Eco Justice Network
It's Only Natural Restaurant
Jones Family Farm
Kent Land Trust
Land Conservation Coalition for Connecticut
Land Heritage Coalition of Glastonbury, Inc.
Land Trust Service Bureau
Litchfield County Farm Bureau
Litchfield Hills Council of Elected Officials
Litchfield Land Trust
Mad Mares Farm
Manchester Grange
Merriman Tree Farm
Middlesex County Farm Bureau
Middlesex County Soil and Water Conservation District
Middlesex Land Trust, Inc.
Natural Resources Conservation Service – Connecticut
New England Heritage Breeds Conservancy
New Haven County Farm Bureau
New London County Farm Bureau
Norfield Grange #146
North Central Pomona Grange
Northern Connecticut Land Trust
Northeast Connecticut Council of Governments
Northern Connecticut Land Trust
Northwest Connecticut Sportsman’s Council
Northwest Conservation District
Northwest Park
Pachaug Grange #96
Park City Primary Care Center, Inc.
Pomfret Conservation Commission
Pomperaug River Watershed Coalition
Regional Plan Association, Connecticut Office
Rivers Alliance of Connecticut, Inc.
Salisbury Association Land Trust
Sharon Historical Society
Sharon Land Trust
Shelton Conservation Commission
Sierra Club - CT Chapter
Slow Food
Snow's Farm
Southbury Land Trust, Inc.
Still River Flower Farm
Sunny Valley Preserve - a project of The Nature Conservancy
Tamory Land Trust
Tolland County Farm Bureau
Torrington Community Garden
Totoket Grange #83
Trumbull Grange
Trust for Public Land
Tunxis State Grange
University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension System
University of Connecticut’s Dept. of Agricultural & Resource Economics
Urban Oaks Organic Farm
Vernon Grange
Very Alive
Wallingford Grange
Weantinoge Heritage, Inc.
West Suffield Grange
White Gate Farm
Wethersfield Historical Society
Wethersfield Garden Club
Windham County Agricultural Society
Windham County Farm Bureau
Windham Region Council of Governments
Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Association