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    Document Summary
    - Report Published -

    Report Document No. 338
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    Document Title
    Annual Report of the Office of Farmland Preservation

    Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

    Enabling Authority

    Executive Summary
    This report presents the primary accomplishments of the Office of Farmland Preservation (OFP) for the period December 1, 2006 through December 1, 2007. Activities during this reporting period were significantly increased because the General Assembly approved $305,000 and one full-time equivalent position for OFP for FY 2006- 2008, and allocated $4.25 million in state matching funds for local Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) programs for the same time period. The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) hired the first Coordinator for OFP in November 2006 and officially launched the office on January 3, 2007.

    Significant accomplishments for this reporting period include the following:

    OFP staff worked with key agricultural, conservation and governmental partners to develop and implement the FY 2007-2008 process for administering $4.25 million in state matching funds for local PDR programs. This is the first time that state matching funds have been available specifically for the permanent protection of working farm and forest land.

    OFP implemented the certification process by requesting applications for certification for state matching funds for local PDR programs. Fifteen localities applied for the funds by July 2007 and reported that almost $45 million in non-state (local, federal, private) funds are currently available for these local PDR programs.

    OFP delivered 28 presentations/workshops to a wide variety of audiences across Virginia. Topics included OFP, PDR programs, farmland preservation tools/techniques, the federal Farm and Ranchland Protection Program (FRPP), conservation easements, use value assessment, and farmland loss data.

    OFP provided additional technical assistance to farmers, local and state government, agricultural and conservation organizations, concerned citizens and others through the development of a new OFP web page, a high quality travel display, and by phone.

    OFP staff worked with the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation (VFBF) to move the Virginia Farm Link database from VFBF to VDACS, and to significantly improve the operation and effectiveness of the database. The purpose of the Virginia Farm Link Program is to provide assistance in the transition of farm businesses and properties from retiring farmers to active farmers. The new database and enhanced electronic functions will be available to the public by February 2008.

    During the next year, OFP expects to see continued demand for technical assistance from localities interested in developing new PDR programs. With continued funding for OFP and state matching funds for local programs, it is expected that at least another ten new (for a total of 30) PDR programs will be established by 2010. OFP also plans to be more involved in farm transition efforts next year. Projects include the rollout of the new database, a Virginia landowner guide and farm transition workshops for landowners.