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DEM Helps Preserve 10-Acre South Kingstown Farm through Sale to Local Farmer Family

PROVIDENCE The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and RI Agricultural Lands Preservation Commission (ALPC) announce the sale of 10 acres of protected farmland in South Kingstown to Kingston Farm Properties, operated by Albert Brandon of Brandon Family Farms. This parcel is the first project of the Farmland Access Program, a voluntary program that supports the growth of Rhode Island's agricultural economy by promoting access to farmland for new farmers and existing agricultural businesses. The parcel, which consists entirely of prime and important farm soils, is ideal for a small, diversified vegetable operation.

For this first project, DEM purchased the farmland parcel for its fair market appraised value of $335,000 in 2020. The sale price to the selected buyer was $240,000, reflecting the appraised value of the property with perpetual deed restrictions requiring that the property be kept in agriculture. The difference in price, $90,000, reflects the value of those restrictions, and was funded by the state farmland bond. ALPC will deposit funds from the sale into a Farmland Preservation Fund, which will be used for additional farmland protection projects.

"A key way to keep developing Rhode Island's agricultural economy is to keep prime farmland in farmers' hands," said DEM Acting Director Terry Gray. "This is a challenge in a state with the highest farmland values in the country. DEM's Farmland Access Program enhances opportunities for the next generation of farmers, ensures supplies of fresh, healthy, and local foods, and helps address food insecurity."

"I am very grateful for the opportunity that the Farmland Access Program has given me to purchase affordable farmland," said Albert Brandon of Brandon Family Farms. "A permanent home here in South Kingstown will ensure we can continue to operate and grow the business indefinitely. We are planning to build a farm store there soon and look forward to inviting everyone to visit!"

While this project is the first through the Farmland Access Program, it is the latest in Rhode Island's ongoing efforts to permanently protect the state's farmland to ensure this important and valuable asset remains available for agriculture. Since 1985, 124 farms spanning 8,161 acres have been protected by the RI Agricultural Lands Preservation Commission, working in concert with DEM and many partners.

Despite this progress, the high cost of farmland and lack of access to affordable farmland threaten the continued viability of local agriculture. Over the past several years, DEM has experienced a growing interest from both expanding and new farmers seeking affordable land to farm. Many farmers seek ownership in land to plan long term and invest in land and soil improvements.

The Farmland Access Program works to address this need. Under this program, ALPC and DEM collaborate to buy, restrict, and then sell eligible farmland parcels to qualified buyers. It is a multi-step process whereby DEM first purchases available farmland that meets program criteria and then the farmland to the ALPC. ALPC then restricts it with perpetual covenants that require it to stay in agricultural use and sells it to a farmer. The farmer-buyer is selected through a public request for proposals. Proposals get ranked by a committee consisting of members of the agricultural community. ALPC recuperates the proceeds of the sale for continued use in the program, resulting in a sustainable funding structure to protect the State's critical farmland soils and businesses.

DEM continues to work across many fronts to strengthen Rhode Island's green economy and to promote the viability of local agriculture. The state's green industries account for more than 15,000 jobs and contribute $2.5 billion to the economy each year. Access to land, however, continues to be a challenge for many farmers.

For more information on DEM programs and services, visit Follow DEM on Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM), Facebook, or Instagram (@rhodeisland.dem) for timely updates.

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  • Department or agency: Department of Environmental Management
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  • Release date: 04-04-2022

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