Governor Ralph Northam has announced $270,000 from the Virginia Farmland Preservation Fund will be awarded to five localities, providing critical matching funds to permanently preserve working farmland through local Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) programs. PDR programs empower localities to limit development on priority farm and forestlands and provide an incentive to landowners who voluntarily want to protect their working lands.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been reminded how important Virginia’s farms are to getting food into our stores and onto our tables,” said Governor Northam. “In addition to being a vital part of our history, agriculture is central to our growing economy and maintaining the outstanding quality of life we enjoy in our Commonwealth. Partnering with local governments to conserve critical working landscapes and protect our abundant natural resources is key to maximizing the conservation impact of state funds.”
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ (VDACS) Office of Farmland Preservation, which administers the Virginia Farmland Preservation Fund, has allocated this year’s funding to Albemarle, Clarke, Fauquier, and Stafford counties and the city of Chesapeake.
“Agriculture and forestry are critical to Virginia residents, and conserving these working lands protects the economic and environmental benefits they provide while also aiding farm succession planning,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “The Virginia Farmland Preservation Fund helps maintain the rural and agricultural character of our Commonwealth and ensures our farms remain available for continued agriculture and forestry production.”
Since 2008, the Virginia Farmland Preservation Fund has allocated $12.4 million in state matching funds in partnership with 16 local PDR programs. These 16 local PDR programs have permanently protected more than 14,300 acres on 107 farms in the Commonwealth.
Localities interested in doing more to protect their vital working farms and forestlands by creating a PDR program or implementing other best practices should contact the VDACS Office of Farmland Preservation Coordinator, Jen Perkins, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (804) 786-1906.