Below is a summary, section by section, of The Community Investment Act (Public Act 05-228):
This Act does the following: prior to passage, current law only allowed the Department of Agriculture to purchase agricultural lands "outright" (on a fee simple basis) prior to July 1, 1995. Section 1 of the Act eliminates the July 1, 1995 provision thus allowing the Department to purchase such lands in this manner on an on-going basis. This adds another option allowing the DOA greater flexibility and quicker response time in cases where landowners are subject to sales pressures. The DOA plans to then preserve the development rights, and then sell the preserved land to another farmer.
Section 2 of the Act establishes a matching grants program to municipalities to be administered by the DOA. The purpose of this program is to stimulate local agricultural viability through ag-related capital projects and generation of local farmland protection and land-use strategies.
Section 3 establishes a "Farm Transition Program" which shall be administered by the DOA. The Farm Transition Program is a matching grants program for farmers, agricultural non-profits organizations, and agricultural cooperatives designed to assist in the "diversification of existing farm operations, transition to value added agricultural production and sales and developing farmers markets and other venues in which a majority of products sold are grown in the state."
Section 4 establishes a "Connecticut Farm Link Program" to be established and administered by the DOA. Information will be maintained on the DOA's website for the purposes of linking those looking to farm but have no land base with those who are looking to sell their farm operations and or farmlands.
Section 5 adds a $30 dollar additional fee for the recording of land records. After the town where the document is filed retains $4, the town clerk shall remit the remaining $26 to the State Treasurer for deposit into the "land protection, affordable housing and historic preservation account".
Section 6 establishes the account, and monies are distributed every three months in the following manner: 25% to the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism to supplement technical and historic preservation activities; 25% to the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority to supplement new or existing affordable housing programs; 25% to the Department of Environmental Protection for municipal open space grants and 25% to the Department of Agriculture. The 25% of the fund for the DOA is to be used as follows: $500,000 for the "Agriculture Viability Grant Program" as established in Section 2; $500,000 for the "Farm Transition Grant Program" as established in Section 3; $100,000 to encourage the sale of "Connecticut Grown" foods to schools, restaurants, retailers and other institutions and businesses in the state; $75,000 for the "Connecticut Farm Link Program" as established in Section 4; the remainder is to go to the Farmland Preservation Program. Each agency may use not more than 10% for administration of the programs for which funds are provided.
Section 7 enables municipalities to establish a land acquisition and development authority to assist in acquiring or developing agricultural, recreational or open space lands.
Section 8 clarifies existing statute that enables municipalities to exempt taxes on farm building assessed at value up to $100,000 (Effective October 1, 2005 pursuant to Public Act 05-03).