The Farmland Preservation Program helps to ensure that farming remains viable in the state. It does this by purchasing development rights from farmers - which enables them to retain ownership of their property while protecting the lands for agricultural use. At the same time, it provides farmers with a financially competitive alternative to development.
This program is operated by the Agricultural Land Preservation Commission (ALPC), which formed in 1981 pursuant to RIGL 42-82 (Farmland Preservation Act) for the primary purpose of acquiring the development rights to farmland in Rhode Island. The ALPC is a quasi-governmental agency that works closely with the DEM.
ALPC meetings are generally held monthly, and all meeting notices and minutes are posted with the Secretary of State. Program Applications are accepted year round and are evaluated and scored at monthly meetings of the ALPC based on criteria that includes: parcel size; soil quality; agricultural operation and viability; protection of water supplies and quality; open space, cultural and scenic features; flood protection; relative development pressure; and consistency with state and local plans. Funding for this program is obtained through voter-approved bonds for farmland protection, and is leveraged with funding from USDA, local land trusts, The Nature Conservancy, and other NGOs. The list of all protected farms to date through the ALPC is available for viewing and download.
DEM's Land Acquisition Committee oversees all other real estate acquisitions, including acquisitions for parks and recreation, fish and wildlife, forest land protection, and watershed protection. Funding for these land acquisitions comes from the Open Space bond, local land trusts, The Nature Conservancy, and from various federal programs including the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Legacy program (application), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife's State Wildlife Grant, and the U.S. Park Service's Land and Water Conservation Fund. The Committee also reviews and makes recommendations on Departmental Lease, Licenses, and Easements. Any surplus of DEM properties are reviewed by this Committee.
- RI ALPC Fiscal Year 2015 Annual Report
- List of Farmland Protected By Farmland Preservation Program
- Purchase of Development Rights Application
- Farmland Preservation Program FAQs
- American Farmland Trust's Fact Sheet on Purchase of Development Rights programs
- Procedures for the Operation of the Agricultural Lands Preservation Commission and the Purchase of Farmland Development Rights (10/2007)