CHAPTER 422
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Table of Contents

Sec. 22-4c. Powers of commissioner. Recording and transcription of hearings. Payment of related costs or expenses.
Sec. 22-6e. Gardening or agricultural use of vacant public land.
Sec. 22-26j. Agricultural viability program. Matching grants.
Sec. 22-26k. Farm transition program. Matching grants.
Sec. 22-26l. Connecticut Farm Link program.

      Sec. 22-4c. Powers of commissioner. Recording and transcription of hearings. Payment of related costs or expenses. (a) The Commissioner of Agriculture may: (1) Adopt, amend or repeal, in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54, such standards, criteria and regulations, and such procedural regulations as are necessary and proper to carry out the commissioner's functions, powers and duties; (2) enter into contracts with any person, firm, corporation or association to do all things necessary or convenient to carry out the functions, powers and duties of the department; (3) initiate and receive complaints as to any actual or suspected violation of any statute, regulation, permit or order administered, adopted or issued by the commissioner. The commissioner may hold hearings, administer oaths, take testimony and subpoena witnesses and evidence, enter orders and institute legal proceedings including, but not limited to, suits for injunctions and for the enforcement of any statute, regulation, order or permit administered, adopted or issued by the commissioner; (4) provide an advisory opinion, upon request of any municipality, state agency, tax assessor or any landowner as to what constitutes agriculture or farming pursuant to subsection (q) of section 1-1, or regarding classification of land as farm land or open space land pursuant to sections 12-107b to 12-107f, inclusive; (5) in accordance with constitutional limitations, enter at all reasonable times, without liability, upon any public or private property, except a private residence, for the purpose of inspection and investigation to ascertain possible violations of any statute, regulation, order or permit administered, adopted or issued by the commissioner and the owner, managing agent or occupant of any such property shall permit such entry, and no action for trespass shall lie against the commissioner for such entry, or the commissioner may apply to any court having criminal jurisdiction for a warrant to inspect such premises to determine compliance with any statute, regulation, order or permit or methods of manufacture or production ascertained by the commissioner during, or as a result of, any inspection, investigation or hearing; (6) undertake any studies, inquiries, surveys or analyses the commissioner may deem relevant, through the personnel of the department or in cooperation with any public or private agency, to accomplish the functions, powers and duties of the commissioner; (7) require the posting of sufficient performance bond or other security to assure compliance with any permit or order; (8) provide by notice printed on any form that any false statement made thereon or pursuant thereto is punishable as a criminal offense under section 53a-157b; (9) by regulations adopted in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54, require the payment of a fee sufficient to cover the reasonable cost of acting upon an application for and monitoring compliance with the terms and conditions of any state or federal permit, license, registration, order, certificate or approval. Such costs may include, but are not limited to, the costs of (A) public notice, (B) reviews, inspections and testing incidental to the issuance of and monitoring of compliance with such permits, licenses, orders, certificates and approvals, and (C) surveying and staking boundary lines. The applicant shall pay the fee established in accordance with the provisions of this section prior to the final decision of the commissioner on the application. The commissioner may postpone review of an application until receipt of the payment.

      (b) In any hearing held on or after October 1, 1995, on an application for any license issued by the commissioner, (1) the applicant shall pay all costs of re:CHY:cording and transcribing the hearing if a transcript is required by law, and (2) any applicant who requests a copy of a transcript of a hearing for which a transcript is not required by law shall pay to the department any expenses incurred by the department in having such transcript prepared. In any proceeding held on or after October 1, 1995, on a department order to enforce any statute, regulation, permit or order administered or issued by the commissioner, the respondent or other person taking an appeal from a final decision of the commissioner shall pay all costs of re:CHY:cording and transcribing the hearing if a transcript is required by law. Upon a showing of indigency by such respondent or person, the court may require the commissioner to pay such costs.

      (P.A. 95-141, S. 4; P.A. 00-196, S. 18; June 30 Sp. Sess. P.A. 03-6, S. 146(e); P.A. 04-189, S. 1; P.A. 05-160, S. 1.)

      History: P.A. 00-196 made technical changes in Subsec. (a); June 30 Sp. Sess. P.A. 03-6 replaced Commissioner of Agriculture with Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Protection, effective July 1, 2004; P.A. 04-189 repealed Sec. 146 of June 30 Sp. Sess. P.A. 03-6, thereby reversing the merger of the Departments of Agriculture and Consumer Protection, effective June 1, 2004; P.A. 05-160 amended Subsec. (a) by adding new Subdiv. (4) to allow commissioner to provide advisory opinion re what constitutes agriculture or farming or re classification of open space or farm land and by redesignating existing Subdivs. (4) to (8) as new Subdivs. (5) to (9), effective July 1, 2005.

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      Sec. 22-6e. Gardening or agricultural use of vacant public land. (a) The commissioner may develop a program to encourage the use of vacant public land owned by the state for gardening or agricultural purposes. In order to carry out said program, the commissioner shall: (1) In cooperation with other state agencies, compile a list of all vacant public land owned by the state, that in the opinion of such agencies and the commissioner may be feasibly used for gardening or agriculture, and (2) establish a procedure for application to the department on a form to be furnished by the commissioner for a permit to use available vacant public land for gardening or agricultural purposes. The commissioner shall adopt regulations pursuant to chapter 54 to carry out the provisions of this section, including but not limited to requirements for agreements to use vacant public land for gardening or agricultural purposes, establishment of a fee for such permit, except that no fee shall be charged for gardening permits, and requirements for the use of such land for agricultural purposes based on competitive open bidding. Permits shall be for a period prescribed by the commissioner but shall not exceed ten years from the date of issuance. After such period permit holders may apply for a new permit or renewal of the permit. Applicants shall submit a plan for such use and shall agree to maintain the land in a condition consistent with such land use plan, and shall agree to abide by regulations adopted by the department pursuant to chapter 54. Failure to carry out the conditions of agreement shall result in the forfeiture of the garden or agriculture permit. Any applicant who is granted the use of vacant public land for gardening or agricultural purposes shall indemnify and save harmless the state and all of its officers, agents and employees against suits and claims of liability of each name and nature arising out of, or in consequence of the use of vacant public land.

      (b) Any permit issued pursuant to subsection (a) may be terminated by the commissioner, without cause, upon written notice to the permittee.

      (c) A sponsor who has a gardening permit may assess a fee to individual gardeners for the sole purpose of reimbursing such sponsor for costs incurred in land preparation.

      (d) Any payments by the permit holder pursuant to an agreement for the use of state land for agricultural purposes shall be credited in equal shares to the General Fund account of the agency whose land is being used for such purposes and to the Department of Agriculture for the purpose of administering the program.

      (P.A. 75-497, S. 2, 4; P.A. 77-75, S. 2, 3; P.A. 82-310, S. 1, 2; P.A. 83-26; P.A. 05-124, S. 3.)

      History: P.A. 77-75 added "sponsor" in Subdiv. (2), replaced "person" with "applicant" in hold harmless provision and added Subsecs. (b) and (c) re termination of permits and fees; P.A. 82-310 amended the section to authorize the use of vacant public land for agricultural purposes where before use was restricted to gardening, required the commissioner adopt regulations and establish permit fees and added Subsec. (d) mandating payments be credited to the general fund account of the agency whose land is used for agricultural purposes; P.A. 83-26 amended Subsec. (a) to require regulations for agricultural use based on competitive open bidding; P.A. 05-124 made a technical change and extended maximum permit period from seven to ten years in Subsec. (a) and credited payments by permit holder in equal shares to General Fund and Department of Agriculture for purpose of administering program in Subsec. (d).

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      Sec. 22-26j. Agricultural viability program. Matching grants. The Department of Agriculture shall establish and administer a program of matching grants to municipalities to further agricultural viability. Such grants may be used for the following purposes: (1) Local capital projects that foster agricultural viability, including, but not limited to, processing facilities and farmers markets; and (2) the development and implementation of agriculturally-friendly land use regulations and local farmland protection strategies that sustain and promote local agriculture.

      (P.A. 05-228, S. 2; June Sp. Sess. P.A. 05-3, S. 113.)

      History: P.A. 05-228 effective July 1, 2005; June Sp. Sess. P.A. 05-3 changed effective date of P.A. 05-228 to October 1, 2005, effective June 30, 2005.

      See Sec. 4-66aa re funding from land protection, affordable housing and historic preservation account.

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      Sec. 22-26k. Farm transition program. Matching grants. (a) There is established a farm transition program which shall be administered by the Department of Agriculture. Matching grants shall be made to farmers, agricultural not-for-profit organizations and agricultural cooperatives for diversification of existing farm operations, transitioning 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.

      (b) The Commissioner of Agriculture shall adopt regulations, in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54, for the administration of the program established by this section. Such regulations shall require the development of business plans by applicants as part of the application process.

      (P.A. 05-228, S. 3; June Sp. Sess. P.A. 05-3, S. 113.)

      History: P.A. 05-288 effective July 1, 2005; June Sp. Sess. P.A. 05-3 changed effective date of P.A. 05-228 to October 1, 2005, effective June 30, 2005.

      See Sec. 4-66aa re funding from land protection, affordable housing and historic preservation account.

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      Sec. 22-26l. Connecticut Farm Link program. (a) The Department of Agriculture shall establish and administer a Connecticut Farm Link program to establish a database of farmers and agricultural land owners who intend to sell their farm operations or agricultural land. The database shall be maintained by the Department of Agriculture and shall be made available to the public on the department's web site. Persons interested in starting an agricultural business or persons interested in expanding a current agricultural business may notify the department and have their names, contact information and intentions regarding such businesses placed on the web site. The department shall make reasonable efforts to facilitate contact between parties with similar interests.

      (b) The Department of Agriculture shall post educational materials regarding the Connecticut Farm Link program on the department's web site, including, but not limited to, information regarding farm transfer and farm succession planning, family farm estate planning, farm transfer strategies, farm leasing, formation of farm partnerships and information regarding starting a farm business.

      (P.A. 05-228, S. 4; June Sp. Sess. P.A. 05-3, S. 113.)

      History: P.A. 05-228 effective July 1, 2005; June Sp. Sess. P.A. 05-3 changed effective date of P.A. 05-228 to October 1, 2005, effective June 30, 2005.

      See Sec. 4-66aa re funding from land protection, affordable housing and historic preservation account.

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