Three decades ago, many government officials and people in Rhode Island considered agriculture a dying sector. In recent years, however, we have seen a significant agricultural upturn in Rhode Island. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that from 2002 to 2007, the total number of farms in Rhode Island grew from 858 to 1,219, an increase of 42 percent, 10 times higher than the 4 percent increase nationwide. The market value of agricultural production climbed from $55.5 million to $65.9 million. Income generated from agritourism activity increased from $23,000 in 2002 to $689,000 in 2007. In a time of bad economic news, Rhode Island agriculture offers good news.

In order to build on recent success and to ensure that we can sustain and grow our agriculture sector and our local food system, the Rhode Island Agricultural Partnership and the RIDEM Division of Agriculture assembled an Advisory Committee made up of individuals representing state, quasi-state and federal agencies as well as independent non-profit organizations and others. The Advisory Committee hired American Farmland Trust to assist in developing and producing a comprehensive Five-Year Strategic Plan for Rhode Island’s Agriculture. The document is an action plan that provides a vision for agriculture’s future, identifies its needs, establishes measurable goals and objectives, and recommends specific courses of action to meet its agenda as outlined by the plan.

The plan was unveiled at Rhode Island’s Annual Ag Day at the State House on May 12, 2011.

Click here to view a PDF of the complete Five-Year Strategic Plan for Rhode Island Agriculture.

Click here to view Stakeholder Input that contributed to the development of the Strategic Plan.

Stakeholder Input on a Five–Year Strategic Plan for RI Agriculture

Stakeholder input was vital to the development of this Strategic Plan. Farmers, service providers, and public entities contributed suggestions on the following topics:

  • Services and technical support to farmers
  • Business support
  • Marketing and product distribution
  • Agricultural policy and regulations
  • Education
  • Agricultural land availability, protection and regulations
  • Food safety and security
  • Sustainable locally produced food system

The input was gathered through listening sessions, a statewide forum, and face-to-face interviews. You can review the input below.

Listening Sessions
The Partnership held three listening sessions to solicit input from farmers and other key stakeholders, written and oral comments are included here:
April 14, 2010-Exeter
April 15, 2010-Portsmouth
April 28, 2010-Slatersville
Statewide Agricultural Forum
November 9, 2010—Kingston
Representatives from farm and commodity organizations were also interviewed and their input is included here:
Noah Fulmer—Farm Fresh RI
Dorothy Brayley-Kids First RI
John Nunes-Newport Vineyards
Kristen Castrataro-URI Extension
Katherine Brown-Southside Community Land Trust