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USDA Deputy Secretary Merrigan Celebrates Farm Preservation

Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan holds a sack of Rhode Island potatoes produced at Ferolbink Farm

Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan holds a sack of Rhode Island potatoes produced at Ferolbink Farm

Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan visited Rhode Island last Friday to celebrate the preservation of Ferolbink Farm, one of the State’s most iconic coastal farms. The event highlighted the success of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program, which allows for conservation easements on farmland, ensuring that such farms are preserved for the benefit of present and future generations.

The deputy secretary spoke to a crowd of approximately 100 attendees. Her speech highlighted the farm’s unique ecological features, including its salt marshes, which provide habitat for migratory birds, waterfowl, and fish. U.S. Senator Jack Reed and Governor Donald Carcieri also spoke.

Jason “Pete” Peckham, owner of Ferolbink Farm, was pleased with his decision to preserve the farm where he had spent his entire life. One of only six potato farms in the State, the farm sells its crops, which include the Rhode Island Royal Potato, to independent supermarkets, local schools and farmer’s markets, as well as to such companies as Frito Lay.

Despite considerable developmental pressures over the past 20 years, Pete worked with NRCS and several conservation groups to protect the farm through the conservation easement. Partners that contributed to success of the land deal and had representatives at the event include the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, The Nature Conservancy, Tiverton Land Trust, Little Compton Agricultural Land Trust and members of the Tiverton community.

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