Why advocate for Local Farmland Preservation and Conservation?

This Thursday, the RI Senate Finance Committee will be hearing testimony for a allocating funds for farmland preservation. Rhode Island has the most expensive farmland in the country. Developers and their lawyers salivate over open land for affordable housing and solar farm projects, which guarantee them revenue and profit. How does this benefit us economically? Why do we need to preserve this land for farming? Here’s the written testimony I submitted this morning. Please read and consider sending in your own testimony. Let’s flood the state house with letters!

Date: Monday, May 23, 2023

To: Chairman Louis DiPalma, Senate Finance Committee

cc: Representative Michelle McGaw

From: Wendy Fachon, East Greenwich

RE: Support for S560: $5M for the Preservation, Protection and Conservation of Farmlands

Dear Chairman DiPalma,

I live in East Greenwich and am testifying in support for House Bill 6018 and Senate Bill 560, funding farmland conservation in the Governor’s FY 24 budget. Thank you bringing this issue to the attention of your committee, My husband I have been supporting farmland conservation through our weekly purchases at local farms and farmer markets, because the food quality and nutrition is better than store-bought produce that is grown and transported from afar.

When I do go food shopping at a supermarket, I notice that most of the produce is labeled as coming from California or south of the border. Between the breakdown of the food supply chain during the pandemic and California’s worsening climate and water challenges, it is time for Rhode Island to focus on food security for its citizens.

We recognize and appreciate the many quantifiable advantages, beyond food quality, of a local farm economy, because it…

  • keeps Rhode Island dollars circulating locally
  • provides over 2,500 “green economy” jobs and over $250 million in revenue
  • improves food security for all Rhode Island residents
  • eliminates fuel costs and carbon emissions that result from long distance transportation
  • attracts matching funds from federal and philanthropic resources
  • harbors the potential to grow exponentially, resulting in an abundance that can be exported out-of-state
  • helps achieve climate resiliency and soil fertility, through use of regenerative practices
  • assures fresher, better tasting food and less spoilage
  • generates agro-tourism dollars
  • builds our sense of community and pride

As you know, Rhode Island has the most expensive farmland in the country, making it difficult to grow the local farm economy. And yet, farmland preservation is a good long-term investment that will appeal to voters. I am among the many asking you to include $5 million in the budget to support the Agricultural Land Preservation Commission, which is critical to preserving important RI farmland.

Thank you, Chairman DiPalma and Finance Committee members, for your service and for listening. Please, help pull S560 through the budget allocation process, so $5 million (or more) can go towards farmland preservation in the Governor’s FY ‘24 Budget. Lead us forward.

Thank you!

Wendy Fachon

East Greenwich, RI

Submit to senatefinance@rilegislature.gov and copy your local senator and house representative on your correspondence. Go here for the email addresses.