Working Lands Alliance (WLA)
The Working Lands Alliance is the statewide voice for farmland preservation efforts in Connecticut. Our alliance includes farmers, conservation and anti-hunger organizations, land trusts, local food advocates, and many others working together to protect Connecticut’s most precious resource - its farmland. WLA is a project of American Farmland Trust. Founded in 1980, American Farmland Trust has helped win permanent protection for over a million acres of American farmland. AFT’s hard work and sound strategies unite farmers, environmentalists and policymakers.
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Saving farmland requires fierce cooperationOur strength comes from our alliance.
Who we are and how we work is synonymous. That’s because Working Lands Alliance is the big tent that convenes people who care passionately about Connecticut’s farmland and farmers.
We are legislators, farmers, conservationists, anti-hunger groups, planners, land trusts, and local food enthusiasts. We come together to do just one thing: protect Connecticut’s vital working lands.
The strength of our coalition stems from this alliance of individuals and organizations throughout Connecticut. Each year, our coalition works to engage the Governor, legislators and policy makers about the importance of farmland, and the need for proactive policies that support a thriving farm economy in Connecticut.
Because so many people have a voice we are able to set an ambitious agenda.
WLA’s policy, advocacy, and education work is driven by a dynamic and diverse Steering Committee that includes members of many key organizations that focus on agricultural and conservation issues in CT. This includes such organizations as:
- Connecticut Farm Bureau Association,
- Connecticut Forest & Park Association,
- Connecticut Farmland Trust,
- UConn Extension,
- Connecticut State Grange,
- Connecticut Nursery and Landscape Association,
- End Hunger CT!,
- CT NOFA,
- CT Land Conservation Council,
- Land for Good,
- among many others.
Connecticut farmland can’t protect itself.
But we can.
Farmland protection is complicated. There are a lot of diverse stakeholders with diverse needs. To be successful requires an active collaboration. Working Lands Alliance is the only entity in CT bringing these stakeholders to the table.
WLA is a broad-based, statewide coalition working together to preserve Connecticut’s most-precious resource, its farmland. Since 1999, WLA has been the statewide voice for farmland preservation efforts, ensuring that we protect the farmland that is the cornerstone of our communities and our quality of life.
Good Policy Starts Here
Working Lands Alliance convenes many of the state’s key individuals and organizations that focus on agricultural and conservation issues. By bringing these thought leaders together around the table, we are able to focus on our state’s farmland preservation efforts and identify the areas where we can make the greatest impact.
WLA’s model is proven to be very successful. WLA has been instrumental in many policy successes over the last fifteen years, including the creation of dedicated funding sources for farmland preservation, and the protection of state-owned land.
To read more about our coalition’s successes, click here.
Where Policymakers Turn to Learn About Farmland Protection
In addition to policy and advocacy work, WLA works at the federal, state and local level to engage and educate our policy makers and the public about the importance of farmland preservation. Over the past couple of years, this work ranged from developing a model agricultural easement and educating land trusts, attorneys, and agency staff on its use, to participating in numerous land conservation lobby days at the Capitol, to engaging our talented high-school level agriscience students through an essay contest, among other efforts.
WLA’s Success Speaks for Itself
In 1999, when WLA came into existence, the landscape for farmland preservation efforts was entirely different. The Governor at the time chronically underfunded the state’s Farmland Preservation Program, which in some years received little or no funding. Farmland preservation in Connecticut was lagging and desperately needed a champion. And that’s where WLA stepped in.
Since that time, WLA has been instrumental in numerous policy successes, raising the profile of farmland preservation issues across the state. In 2005, WLA worked closely with many statewide partners to create the Community Investment Act. This forward-thinking piece of legislation has provided millions of dollars for farmland preservation and numerous agricultural programs, as well as open space conservation, historic preservation, and affordable housing.
A Uniquely Effective Coalition
Over the past decade, WLA’s work as a coalition has led to numerous other policy successes. Here are a few notable examples:
- Since 2005, WLA has led campaigns that have generated more than $90 Million for Connecticut’s Farmland Preservation Program, including authorizations of $10 million per year for five fiscal years in a row (FY 11 through FY15).
- On less than a $100,000 budget, we have leveraged an average of $12 Million annually in state investments in farmland protection.
- WLA and its partners advocated for the protection of state-held agricultural lands, leading to the permanent protection of nearly 1000 acres of prime state-owned farmland at Southbury Training School.
- WLA was a key partner in developing the Community Farms Preservation Program, which protects locally significant farms that are not eligible for traditional farmland protection programs.
- WLA was instrumental in the passage of legislation that allowed for state bond funds for farmland preservation to be released in lump sums, avoiding the need to seek approval from the Bond Commission for individual projects.
- In 2015, WLA helped pass a bill making it easier for land trusts and municipalities to leverage the state and federal funding needed to complete conservation projects – giving a boost to our efforts to protect farmland and open space.
WLA Provides a High Return on Investment for Your Gifts
WLA is recognized by many partners and stakeholders as a uniquely effective coalition. We provide a strong voice for farmland preservation issues at the Capitol and have real and measurable successes to point to. And the best part? We have done this all on a modest budget. Your membership to WLA provides a high return on investment and brings you together with a growing coalition who cares deeply about our working lands.