- Report Published -
|Annual Report of Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Office of Farmland Preservation - December 1, 2011|
|Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services|
|This report presents the primary accomplishments of the Office of Farmland Preservation (OFP) for the period December 1, 2010 through December 1, 2011.|
Significant accomplishments for this reporting period include the following:
• OFP continued to work with key agricultural, conservation and governmental partners to refine the allocation process for state matching funds to local purchase of development rights (PDR) programs;
• To date, $5.25 million has been allocated to 16 local PDR programs;
• OFP worked with local PDR programs to permanently preserve 5,174.71 acres of working farm and forest lands in 11 localities. OFP provided $4.94 million of the $13.4 million in total purchase price and transaction costs paid for these easements;
• OFP delivered 12 presentations/workshops to a wide variety of audiences. Topics included OFP, PDR programs, farmland preservation tools/techniques, conservation easements, use value assessment, farmland loss data and the Virginia Farm Link program;
• OFP and VDACS’ Commissioner established the Working Lands Discussion Group to encourage more donations of conservation easements by working farm and forest landowners;
• OFP continued to oversee the Virginia Farm Link database. Since May 2008, 103 active farm owners have received 1,213 individual requests from 378 active farm seekers interested in discussing various transition options with them;
• OFP has allocated $101,410 to Virginia Cooperative Extension since December 2008 for workshops designed to help farm families and their service providers transition farms and farming operations to the next generation; and
• OFP began collaboration with the Virginia Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer Committee to improve the effectiveness of the Virginia Farm Link program.
The amount of state funding for local PDR programs increased sharply in FY 2012, though it still is well below the amount originally awarded in FY 2008. OFP expects to see continued demand for these state matching funds, and if the funds are maintained at a higher level, additional local PDR programs interested in applying for these funds. In addition to providing technical assistance on establishing and improving local PDR programs, OFP also will continue to provide technical assistance on other farmland preservation tools.
Over the next year, OFP plans to continue the outreach phase of the Working Lands Discussion Group. This will include additional conservation easement workshops for working farm and forest owners in 2012, as well as more promotion of the new working lands variant adopted by the Virginia Outdoors Foundation.
OFP also plans to continue its expansion of farm transition efforts in the future. In addition to continuing to provide workshop funding to Virginia Cooperative Extension, OFP also plans to continue its collaborative relationship with the Virginia Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer Committee. The Young Farmer Committee just received word that it is the recipient of a two-year grant to develop a farm seeker certification process, and OFP plans to work closely with the committee on this initiative.