Windsor, Connecticut, October 13, 2008—A growing number of local governments across the nation are recognizing the environmental and economic importance of farms and farmland. To help communities consider ways to support agriculture at the local level, American Farmland Trust (AFT) and the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM) have completed a joint publication: Planning for Agriculture: A Guide for Connecticut Municipalities.
This 62-page guide is designed as a tool to assist local governments in preserving and protecting agriculture in Connecticut as part of their local landscape, economy and natural resources. Divided into six simple yet informative sections, it is meant to help the reader fully understand the issues facing agriculture in Connecticut, what it means to municipalities and what steps can be taken to support agriculture in the state.
“Every community has its own community and agricultural character,” says AFT’s New England Field Representative Jiff Martin. “Regardless of how many working farms remain in an area, we encourage any community that values its farms and farmers to plan for agriculture, which is different than planning for open space. Planning for agriculture requires a proactive stance that recognizes farms as businesses and as important components of the landscape.”
Designed to appeal to all interested parties—elected officials, conservation commissions, planning & zoning commissions, planners, assessors, regional planning agencies, agriculture stakeholders, and community residents—this new guide offers a wide range of ideas and strategies to help discuss, develop, and implement policies that will support long-term agriculture viability. Also included in the guide are resources, case studies, and pertinent general statutes and select recent court cases.
"The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities is pleased to have partnered with American Farmland Trust to create this important guide, which will further help cities and towns across the state to support and continue to grow a thriving agricultural sector,” says CCM’s Senior Legislative Associate Kachina Walsh-Weaver. “Farms are a vital component of any community. This guide will help local leaders to preserve and protect local agriculture and all of the benefits it provides to municipalities and our state."
The guide covers a broad range of tools available to help local governments address the economic and land use needs of farmers and to help create a supportive atmosphere for agriculture, including: the benefits of farms; involving farmers in town decision-making; planning and zoning tools; right-to-farm ordinances; subdivision regulations; financing local farmland protection; addressing common issues; and promoting local farm viability.
Funding for the guide was provided by the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving and the Connecticut Department of Agriculture. The town of Somers was the grant recipient and an advisory team of agricultural experts and municipal officials from the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, Connecticut Farm Bureau Association, Connecticut Farmland Trust, Connecticut Chapter of American Planning Association, University of Connecticut, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture assisted in compiling information and drafting the publication.
An electronic version of the guide is available online at www.ctplanningforagriculture.com; additional resources will soon be posted at this site. CCM and AFT, along with CT Farm Bureau Association, have scheduled a series of free regional outreach presentations about the new publication during the fall. To request copies of the guide, learn more about outreach presentations, or if you have any questions please contact AFT’s New England Field Representative Jiff Martin. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 860-638-4230.