Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced on Tuesday the recipients of fiscal year 2014 farmland preservation grants. Eight localities have been awarded just over $1,058,000 from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS). Localities must use the grant monies to preserve farmland within their boundaries through local Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) programs. PDR programs compensate landowners who work with localities to preserve their land permanently by voluntarily placing a perpetual conservation easement on it.
VDACS allocated almost $149,678.46 each to the counties of Albemarle, Clarke, Fauquier, Isle of Wight, James City, and Stafford, as well as the City of Virginia Beach. Rappahannock County will receive an $11,000 grant. These allocations total a little more than $1,058,000, bringing the total allocation of state matching funds to $8.68 million since 2008, when PDR funds were first distributed.
Speaking about the farmland preservation grants, Governor McAuliffe said, “Today’s announcement, which will be the first of many, highlights my administration’s goal of conserving Virginia’s working lands, an important component of land preservation. These grants are the first step toward my administration’s goal of conserving 400,000 acres of open space and working lands across Virginia. I applaud the commitment of my predecessors and the General Assembly to land preservation, and I look forward to building on the successes they have achieved over the last eight years.”
Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore added, “Adequate and accessible working lands are the foundation of agriculture and forestry, Virginia’s largest industries. Local governments receiving these funds will be able to use them alongside their dedicated local support, creating new opportunities to preserve working farmland, produce goods for purchase, create jobs, generate tax revenue, and protect our precious natural resources. I look forward to working with Governor McAuliffe, Natural Resources Secretary Molly Ward, localities, and landowners during the next four years to preserve as many working land acres as possible”
This is the seventh 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 6,700 acres on 49 farms in 12 localities have been permanently protected in part with $6 million of these funds. Additional easements are expected to close using the remaining funds over the next two years. Future new appropriations will help preserve additional working lands as well.
Localities interested in future rounds of grant applications for PDR matching funds should contact the Office of Farmland Preservation at the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. They may e-mail Andrew Sorrell, the Office of Farmland Preservation Coordinator, at [email protected].