Governor Malloy announced on Wednesday that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will allow Connecticut to use more than $8 million of federal funding to preserve and protect the state's farms.
Malloy said Connecticut has already preserved more than 300 farms and 13,000 acres of farmland and hopes to use the extended funding to protect not only farms, but also jobs.
"Despite being a relatively small state geographically, people may be surprised to learn that agriculture is actually a significant industry in our state. Estimates indicate that agriculture contributes 3.5 billion dollars to Connecticut's economy and provides nearly 28,000 jobs."
This agreement will extend funding until March of 2015, giving the state more flexibility with farmers who wish to participate in the program. Robin Chesmer, a dairy farmer in Lebanon, has been participating in the program since he bought his farm 25 years ago.
"I sometimes think [the farmland preservation program] is misnamed," Chesmer said. "It really should be called the farmland investment program, because it is an investment in the future of agriculture in Connecticut. When you get right down to it, you can't do it without the land. The land is what agriculture is all about."
In the last five years, Connecticut has seen a 22 percent increase in the number of farms, making it the largest growth rate of farms in New England. Through this agreement, Governor Malloy hopes to ensure the the protection of natural resources and production of state-grown products.