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Voluntary Municipal Farm Support Program - M.R.S. 7 Ch2-C
The 123rd Maine Legislature enacted Maine Revised Statute Title 7, Chapter 2-B, to allow towns to create their own local, non-permanent agricultural conservation easement programs.
Any town in Maine may develop and codify a Voluntary Municipal Farm Support Program to enter into "farm support arrangements" with eligible farmland owners. Those farmland owners who are formally accepted by a town's legislative body, may then grant a 20-year agricultural conservation easement to the town in exchange for full or partial reimbursement of property taxes on their farmland and farm buildings during that 20 year period.
In March 2013, the Town of Winslow formed an Agricultural Working Group (AWG) to survey and identify the farmland protection needs and interests of the farming community. The AWG’s report to the Town Council entitled, “Cultivating Winslow’s Agricultural Future,” outlined a set of strategies to address the needs and concerns of farmers in Winslow. Acting on one of the report recommendations, the Winslow Town Council chartered and appointed its Agricultural Commission on May 2014.
Throughout 2015, the Winslow Agricultural Commission, the Town Manager and Town Assessor worked in consultation with the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, to create a Voluntary Municipal Farm Support Program (VMFSP) in accordance with the Law and Rules. In March 2016, the Commission presented the Winslow Town Council, Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals information about the agricultural soils, farm viability and development pressure in the town to introduce the need for the Voluntary Municipal Farm Support Program, and presented information on the possible impact of the VMFSP on the Town of Winslow’s tax revenue. On May 9, 2016, the Winslow Town Council made history, adopting Maine’s first VMFSP as Ordinance No. 3-2016.