2008 Annual Report for CNE08-056
Leveraging community financing for farm and farmland protection
This project will give farmers, agricultural educators and service providers, farm and conservation organizations, legislators, community leaders municipalities, land trusts and other easement holding and easement funding organizations (stakeholders) the option to use Installment Purchase Agreements (IPAs) to preserve agricultural land in New Hampshire. At the end of the project 1) regulatory, funding, financial and other stakeholder concerns will be known and a plan will be operational for overcoming any barriers; 2) stakeholders will understand IPAs, how they work for all stakeholders, benefits and drawbacks to towns and farmers; 3) all issues associated with using zero coupon bonds to fund IPAs will be noted and solved; and 4) At least one farmer and one town will be working together to implement NH’s first IPA. To achieve these outcomes, the project will engage stakeholders in the exploring IPAs, discussing pros and cons, identifying and overcoming any regulatory barriers, and making comparisons to existing easement financing methods in place in New Hampshire.
The project will develop consensus for IPA program development and administration including the design of a decision-making tool for farmers to weigh the IPA option per family circumstances and with other alternatives. This concept has not been used north of Pennsylvania. Since acquiring development rights is particularly expensive in this region and since the northern New England states have limited funds with which to purchase conservation easements, IPAs will provide a significant means of leveraging precious financial resources for farm and farmland protection for the mutual benefit of farmers and communities. The project will provide a model for the other New England states to adopt for their farm viability programs.
The project will assemble a ‘think tank’ of stakeholders: farmers, agricultural educators and service providers, farm and conservation organizations, legislators and community leaders to investigate the opportunities, benefits, drawbacks and barriers to adding IPAs to NH’s farmland conservation options.
a. Stakeholders participate in IPA discussions to learn about the program, consider how it would impact them and express concerns and other feedback.
b. All issues associated with using zero coupon bonds to fund IPAs will be noted and solved.
c. Project collaborators develop an IPA program that fits NH needs, statutes and governance structures.
d. Collaborators share IPA program information through networks
1. Organized and convened a Steering Committee of farmers, municipalities and conservation organizations, including:
NH Association of Conservation Commissions
UNH Cooperative Extension
American Farmland Trust
Local Government Center
Upper Valley Land Trust
Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests
Land and Community Heritage Investment Program
Natural Resources Conservation Service
Department of Agriculture, Markets and Foods
2. Developed a set of research questions to guide the investigation of project consultants
3. Selected and briefed project consultants and prepared a plan of work
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
IAssuming that IPA’s can be a resource to NH farmers, land trusts and municipalities without need for institutional changes, at the conclusion of this project we expect at least one farmer and one town will be working together to implement NH’s first IPA. If there are legal or other issues that need to be addressed, we expect to have set in motion actions that would resolve those barriers. The project will provide a model for adoption of IPA’s by other New England states
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