Hi Farmers! Today we’re talking about an issue that we're hoping will turn into a successful bill this legislative session, Option to Purchase Agricultural Value (aka OPAV). OPAV hasn't been raised by the environment committee yet, but they're thinking about it. So an email from you to your legislator might make all the difference! But first…What is OPAV and why should we care about it? OPAV is an addition to the existing Farmland Preservation Program. The Farmland Preservation program enables the state (often with the help of a land trust and USDA) to purchase the development rights of a piece of farmland. It ensures that the land will stay in agriculture and can’t be paved over or turned into someone’s vacation home. This also leads to a nice paycheck for the current farmer, which they might use to re-invest in the business, retire, or whatever else they want! OPAV adds to this program by ensuring that once the land is protected, it can only be sold to farmers and immediate family. A developer can’t purchase the land and petition to have the protections removed. The effect of this is that the price of the farmland is significantly lowered because farmers won’t be competing with other buyers (i.e. real estate investors) for the property. Good news for farmers searching for land! Option to Purchase at Agricultural Value has a few key outcomes that we at NCTFA are really excited about: 1. Preserves farmland.
2. Gives current farm owners a crucial influx of cash.
3. Makes farmland more accessible and affordable for future farmers.
We all know how hard land access is these days. Passing OPAV would give CT farmers a fighting chance at finding farmland that meets their needs and is actually affordable.
But to get this bill passed we need your support!
The first step is convincing the Environment Committee to bring an OPAV bill to the general assembly for discussion. You can check here whether your town’s legislator sits on this committee.
If the Environment Committee votes to propose the bill (and we hope they will), it’ll be taken up by the general assembly. So no matter who your representative is, it’s worth sending them an email or giving them a call asking them to support OPAV. You can look up your legislators by town name here, and check your district on a map here. NCTFA has already written to the Environment Committee in support of OPAV. Read our letter here, and use it as a template for your own letter! We'll keep you updated on other ways to support as they come up. If you'd like to learn more, this resource provides more information on what OPAV is and how it might work. It's not specific to CT, so keep in mind that our OPAV legislation might differ slightly. And if you're interested in hearing more on OPAV and other policy issues up for debate this legislative session, join us at the Hootenanny on Sunday! You can get your tickets at bit.ly/Hoot22.