PERSON COUNTY TO DEVELOP FARMLAND PRESERVATION PLAN
Person County plans to begin development of a countywide Farmland Preservation Plan in January 2015. Farmland Preservation Plans serve to protect, preserve, and enhance the agriculture industry and farmland and provide decision-makers with a road-map to develop the industry, preserve working lands, and identify opportunities to create agriculturally related jobs and improve wages and farm income. The agricultural industry currently is estimated to contribute $35 million to the local economy in Person County, but due to factors such as an aging farmer population, the decline in the tobacco industry and rising production costs there is a need to identify opportunities for diversification and to facilitate land transfers between generations to maintain a viable agricultural economy. This need is further enhanced by high unemployment and the decline of the manufacturing industry.
The food and farming system nationwide contributes more than $1 trillion to the U.S. economy, and serves to support local governments by being a valuable tax base that contributes far more toward the costs of community services than it requires in return. Additionally, well managed farmland provides numerous environmental benefits such as wildlife habitat, permeable surface for storm water to be absorbed, and promotion of healthy soils. Farmland Preservation Plans consist primarily of four comprehensive components: a description of existing agricultural activity, existing challenges to agriculture, opportunities to enhance agriculture, and a plan to maintain viable agriculture. The goal of farmland preservation covers much more than the land itself, it often includes new marketing outlets for existing farms, training for beginning farmers, outreach to encourage the development of farm businesses owned and operated by women and minorities, and collaborative efforts to process and distribute farm products. Farmland Preservation Plans do not create regulation or policy, but provide information about the agricultural economy and valuable working lands to local decision makers and elected officials, providing a road-map for the future viability of local agriculture.
Person County will be working with the Piedmont Conservation Council, Inc. (www.PiedmontConservation.org) on development of the plan. Representatives from the Piedmont Conservation Council and Person County will be contacting many area farmers, landowners, and representatives from the agricultural and related industries for interviews. These interviews will be an essential component of the plan’s development, and those contacted are encouraged to weigh in and have their opinions and observations counted!
The Piedmont Conservation Council, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in Durham, has worked on similar plans in Caswell, Guilford, and Chatham counties. The Council covers 10 counties across the northern central Piedmont of North Carolina, 9 of which already have approved Farmland Preservation Plans. In addition to farmland preservation, the council has also been active in storm water management, stream restoration, dam removal, and agri-tourism projects across the Piedmont since 1967. The development of the Person County Farmland Preservation Plan will be made possible by contributions from the NC Dept. of Agriculture & Consumer Services ADFP Trust Fund, Person County, Person County Farm Bureau, Person County Cattlemen’s Association, and the Person County Soil & Water Conservation District.
For more information please contact:
Jacob Leech, Project Manager
Piedmont Conservation Council, Inc.
This project received funding from the NC ADFP Trust Fund.