- Report Published -
|Annual Report on the Office of Farmland Preservation|
|Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services|
|This report presents the primary accomplishments of the Office of Farmland Preservation (OFP) for the period December 1, 2005 through December 1, 2006. As indicated in reports for prior years, all direct funding for the OFP was eliminated in the budget reductions in FY 2003. While having no financial resources has significantly limited activities in the program, staff from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) Agribusiness Development Services Unit, where the program is currently assigned, have managed to achieve some of the objectives of the OFP in the context of performing their assigned economic development functions.|
In 2006, the General Assembly approved $305,000 and one (1) FTE for the 2006-08 biennium as start-up funding for the Office of Farmland Preservation. The new Farmland Preservation Coordinator position was advertised, interviews held and selection made during the months of September, October and November 2006, with the successful candidate planning to start officially on January 3, 2007. However, even before starting the new position officially, the new Farmland Preservation Coordinator will begin attending appropriate meetings with state and local farmland preservation officials and developing work plans to assist in reaching the Governor's goal of conserving 400,000 acres by 201 0.
Significant accomplishments for this reporting period are given as follows:
• Staff of the Agribusiness Development Services (ADS) Unit made several presentations to state and federal agencies, local governments and private advocacy groups concerning the need for farm business transition planning and farmland preservation, thereby, helping to meet the outreach/education function of the OFP.
• VDACS staff has attended four (4) quarterly PDR Directors/Managers group meetings, apprising the group of the progress being made in funding and staffing of a State PDR program. In addition, VDACS Staff has attended three (3) Joint Legislative Subcommittee meetings charged with studying funding for a State PDR program.
• VDACS staff served as a member of Virginia Land Conservation Foundation group in awarding $2.4M to preserve working landscapes in the Farmland and Forestland category.
• The Farm Transition Database currently has 132 listings, 115 of which are for beginning farmers, (i.e., people seeking to enter farm businesses) and 17 farm owners who are exiting from the business. The number of farm owners listed in the database has increased two fold to 17, a positive sign for the development of the program. There are three farm transition matches between exiting farmers and beginning farmers in the initial stages of development.
This report begins with a summary of the mission and overview of the OFP and then provides additional details on the accomplishments for this reporting period in Outreach/Education, Virginia Farm Link and Virginia Farmland Preservation.