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McAuliffe announces $500,000 in farmland preservation grants

virginiaGovernor Terry McAuliffe announced the fiscal year 2017 farmland preservation grant recipients. The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ (VDACS) Office of Farmland Preservation has awarded a total of $500,000 to six localities.  Localities must use the grants to permanently preserve working farmland within their boundaries through local Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) programs. PDR programs compensate landowners who work with localities to permanently preserve their land by voluntarily securing a perpetual conservation easement.

VDACS allocated nearly $87,000 each to Albemarle, Fauquier and Clarke counties as well as the cities of Virginia Beach and Chesapeake. Warren County will receive more than $65,000. These grant allocations bring the total allocation of state matching funds to more than $11.9 million since 2008 when PDR funds were first distributed.

“As our new Virginia economy continues to grow and localities manage new urban and suburban development, it is imperative that we help local governments and the farming industry protect and manage resources,” said Governor McAuliffe. “In addition to conserving farmlands, these grants will allow Virginia farmers to continue to produce high quality agricultural products that are marketed here and around the world. We will continue to support the Virginia Treasures initiative by conserving working farmlands and forests, and ensure our agriculture and forestry communities remain on the forefront of the new Virginia economy.”

“Working farm and forest lands provide products, jobs, revenue, tax dollars and more while demanding very little, if anything, from their host localities,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Dr. Basil Gooden. “The VDACS Office of Farmland Preservation and these six localities will work in voluntary partnership with landowners to permanently preserve valuable working lands.”

“This investment will pay environmental dividends for generations to come,” said Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward. “Open spaces provide essential human and ecological habitats for the Commonwealth’s communities.”

This is the tenth time that the Commonwealth has provided state matching funds for certified local PDR programs. Of the 22 local PDR programs in Virginia, 18 have received local funding over the past few years. To date, more than 11,400 acres on 80 farms in 15 localities have been permanently protected in part with $10.5 million of these funds. Additional easements are expected to close using the remaining funds over the next two years.

Localities interested in creating a PDR program or applying for future rounds of grant applications for PDR matching funds should contact the VDACS Office of Farmland Preservation Coordinator Andy Sorrell atAndrew.Sorrell@vdacs.virginia.gov or call (804) 786-1906.

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