DEM to host hearing on Farmland Access Program

PORTSMOUTH, R.I. — The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) will hold a public hearing later this month on the proposed rules and regulations for the state’s new Farmland Access Program.

The voluntary, pilot program – approved by voters as part of a 2014 environmental bond measure – helps ensure Rhode Island’s farmlands remain in farming.

The meeting takes place Wednesday, Aug. 30, at 5:30 p.m. at DEM Headquarters, 235 Promenade Street, Providence. 

DEM continues to work across many fronts to strengthen Rhode Island’s green economy and to promote local agriculture. The state’s green industries account for more than 15,000 jobs and contribute $2.5 billion to the economy each year.

And local agriculture continues to be an area ripe for growth – with the number of farms in Rhode Island on the rise and a growing young farmer network. Access to land, however, continues to be a challenge for many farmers.

The Farmland Access Program is one way DEM is addressing this challenge. It allows the Department to partner with the State’s Agricultural Land Preservation Commission and willing sellers to purchase farmland, protect it, and affordably sell it to farmers looking for land. The voluntary program gives landowners a way to ensure their properties will be available for agriculture into the future. As part of the 2014 Clean Water, Open Space and Healthy Communities bond measure, $3 million is available to preserve farmland under this program.

Last year, DEM conducted three public workshops to solicit early input on draft rules and regulations for the program. The proposed Rules & Regulations incorporate extensive public input and are available online at www.dem.ri.gov. Written comments will be accepted through September 5, 2017 and should be submitted to Michelle Sheehan in the DEM Division of Planning & Development, 235 Promenade Street, Providence, RI 02908 or via email at Michelle.sheehan@dem.ri.gov.

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