Continued threats to farmland from real estate development. While the majority of farmers surveyed in our plan agreed that farms should be conserved and protected, developers typically have deeper pockets than prospective farmers or interested land trusts and can offer farmers better rates for their land in a quicker time frame.
Findings & Challenges
Approximately 1,450 acres of farmland has been conserved on Aquidneck Island with over 2,600 acres of farmland parcels still at risk of development. However, our goal is not to just preserve land, but help contribute to making farming more viable on Aquidneck Island and in the state. Our survey, interviews, and research yielded a number of challenges to farming locally:
Land access and affordability of land was established as one of the main challenges in the region and state. Many farmers in the state are looking for land but either cannot afford to purchase or cannot find a landowner willing to lease.
An aging farming class is coupled with difficulty for young farmers to get on the land. In 2007, more than one in four farmers in the State was older than 65, and over 80% of Newport County farmers surveyed in 2015 do not have a succession plan for what happens to the farm after they retire. At the same time, the number of young farmers under 34 has doubled in the State in the last year — yet there are still many looking for land to purchase or lease.
Zoning and regulations can limit innovation or helpful alternative uses in farming.
Surveyed farmers expressed desire for business planning training and many stated finding support infrastructure, affordable equipment, and good help can be difficult.
*Rhode Island is the highest in the nation and Newport County the highest in the state.
Middletown, RI 02842