A farm in Warren is the 100th farm in the state to be permanently protected for farming. This marks a milestone for the state’s farmland protection efforts.
The state considers Lial Acres in Warren an important farm to protect because of its prime soil and its close proximity to other protected farms. The farm also abuts land protected for drinking water quality by the Bristol County Water Authority.
The Lial family currently operates it as a vegetable farm, though previous family generations ran it as a dairy farm. It has been an active farm for 125 years.
The Department of Environmental Management’s Ken Ayars, chief of the division of agriculture, said these types of farmland protection transactions take a while to complete not just because of funding issues, but also because families have to make big decisions about their land.
It took three years to reach an agreement with the Lial family, but “what it represents in the bigger picture is 30 years’ worth of land protection effort which began with the passage of the Rhode Island Farmland Preservation Act in 1981,” said Ayars.
Ayars said the state started to protect farms more than 30 years ago when it began to lose farmland to development. He said this effort is key to supporting the state’s agriculture industry.
“The work that has been done over 30 years to protect 100 of the best farms in the state forms a base that will always be here to help create a local, sustainable food economy and a base for agriculture in the state.”
Three groups pooled money together to buy the farm’s development rights: the Rhode Island Agricultural Land Preservation Commission, which manages the state’s farmland protection program, the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Farm and Ranchland Protection Program, and the Nature Conservancy with support from The Champlin Foundations.
The state has since protected an additional two farms.
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