Rhode Island's farms contribute to the state's economic development and provide Rhode Islanders with local food and farm vistas - as well as tourism opportunities and wildlife habitat. From 2002-2007 the market value of agricultural production in Rhode Island climbed from $55.5 million to $65.9 million. It is now estimated to be more than $100 million. According to the RI Agricultural Partnership, the state's farmland also provides approximately $90 million in ecosystem services such as habitat value, flood prevention, carbon sequestration, and improved air quality. With such significant contributions to the economy and to the health of our natural communities, the protection of Rhode Island's farmland is a good investment.
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.
To assist the farming community with developing farm resource management plans for agricultural operations, we have created standards and specifications for agricultural best management practices (BMP) which aim to prevent, abate, or minimize pollution of surface and ground water. These standards and specifications are guidelines only however, by implementing these practices, not only will our natural resources be protected and conserved, but economic benefits can be gained as well. Costs and labor may be drastically reduced by implementing certain practices.
The guidelines are designed so that farmers may understand and identify on-farm sources of non-point source pollution, and choose and implement effective strategies to address them. When viewed separately, each non-point source may be small, but collectively non-point source pollution can have major impacts on the ground and surface water quality.
The goals of these guidelines are to increase understanding of on-farm, non-point pollution, provide guidance and tools for farm planning that address non-point pollution, support the selection and utilization of practical agricultural management measures and provide access to help and information through NRCS.
Below you will find a list of Best Management Practices. Each BMP has a description of the practice and the benefits to be achieved by implementation, if appropriate. Not all of the management practices described may be implemented depending on the size and type of the agricultural operation nor is it required to implement more than one practice. Each farming operation is different and only those management practices which will prove to be economically and environmentally beneficial are recommended for implementation. The goal however, is the same for each individual practice and that is to protect and conserve Rhode Island's natural resources.
Over the years, an increase in land and labor costs, new product demands, changing market conditions, unstable prices and a reduced land base have given rise to more intensive agricultural operations or the opposite, a decline or downsizing of viable farming. Where more intensive farming is concerned, technical advances will continue to grow and further increases in production can be anticipated. The expected increases in production and intensity of land use may be accompanied by an increased potential for pollution and is why farmers are encouraged to adopt practices to minimize the likelihood of pollution. Farmers have a vested interest in minimizing potential water and soil degradation as agricultural operations rely on adequate supply of high quality water, as well as good soil resources.
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