Farmland Preservation is the process of keeping working farms in agricultural production rather than seeing them sold off for development. A comprehensive farmland preservation program includes a variety of Conservation Easements, Voluntary Agricultural Districts, Enhanced Voluntary Agricultural Districts, a sound agricultural economy, Agricultural Tax Assessment, good land use planning, and strong community support.
There are actually several ways to preserve working farms.
1. If a farming operation meets minimum qualifications the parcel can qualify for a Reduced Tax Assessment. This assessment is called; Present Use Value Assessment and land owners who meet the minimum requirements can apply for this status in January of each year.
2. Polk County has initiated two voluntary programs that notify neighbors that live near a farm offering some protection from nuisance lawsuits. The Polk County Voluntary Agricultural District now has 5,187 acres enrolled and the Enhanced Voluntary Agricultural District, which offers Cost Share Incentives, has 1,392 acres enrolled. 3. A landowner may want to place a Voluntary Permanent Easement on their land for a State Tax Credit and a Federal Deduction for the gift of development rights. This method is often used to reposition the value of land for inter-family transfers.
4. There are also programs available to actually purchase Development Rights on farmland. When grant funds are available, a participation request is sent out and all applications go through an evaluation by the board.
5. The fifth factor is very important. If we can maintain a high value for farmland and farm products, the land will stay in agriculture. Agricultural Economic Development is an important part of a comprehensive farmland preservation program.
By keeping "costs of services" low, which in turn keeps property taxes low. According to numerous studies, including those by American Farmland Trust and Clemson University, for every dollar paid in property tax, a farm or forestland requires only 34 cents in county services like schools, sheriff, EMS and so on. In contrast, residential development requires $1.15-$2.26 in services for every dollar paid in property tax. That's an obvious net loss that eventually requires increased property taxes from everyone.
• By preserving rural character, open spaces and natural beauty.
• By protecting natural resources, especially water (through lower demand and groundwater recharging), and helping protect natural habitat and wildlife.
• By keeping locally grown food available, which provides higher quality at a lower cost because there is no expensive shipping involved.
• By ensuring that future generations have land to grow food on.
• By strengthening our local economy. Agriculture is one of the county's top industries, providing jobs, farm products and agri-tourism.
• In fact, working farms are a rare kind of "open space" that can actually drive the economy while providing natural beauty and environmental benefits!
Farmers willing to put permanent agricultural easements on their working farms would receive a one-time PDR payment that essentially "purchases" their development rights. The payment is to compensate farmers for restricting their land from development, since that restriction results in a lower appraised market value as compared with unrestricted land.
The lower value would keep property taxes lower, which keeps farming more affordable, and would also mean that another farmer could better afford to buy the land and keep it in farming when the original farmer decides to retire or sell. A lower value would also help lessen inheritance taxes - a challenge many farm families face and one of the main reasons farmland is sold for development.
Yes, they would. Property taxes paid on working farms are based on a "present use value" calculation and that would continue to apply once the land is put under easement.
No, Polk County would NOT be buying any part of the farm or taking any operating interest. The farmer would continue to own and work the land.
Polk's working farms are small, family-owned businesses, not the big corporate/agri-business you hear about on the national news.
Agriculture is a booming industry in Polk County, providing delicious local food, farm products, jobs and agri-tourism. Current agricultural activity includes orchards, wine grapes, hay, turf, sprouts, dairy, horticulture, forestry and the equine, cattle, goat, honeybee and alpaca industries, just to name a few.
A 2007 report from the county's Economic Development Commission suggested that, given the county's lack of manufacturing or industrial infrastructure, building on our established agricultural businesses represents our best opportunity for sustaining the county's economic health. Through Farmland Preservation and agricultural economic development, we can stimulate and grow farming's tremendous potential.
• Seventeen percent of the state's workforce is enrolled in agriculture/agribusiness related jobs.
• Agriculture/agribusiness comprises 20.3% of the state's income and is the number one industry in the state at $68 billion.
• The state's forest products industry is the largest manufacturing industry in North Carolina.
• Forest products industries paid annual wages of $3.6 billion.
• North Carolina's green industry contributes $8.6 billion to the state's economy.
• The green industry employs nearly 152,000 people across the state.