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 email@example.com
The Hartford Courant
To submit a Letter to the Editor: firstname.lastname@example.org
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:
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?
WLA Steering Committee
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!]
City of Hartford Advisory Commission on Food Policy