North Carolina's ag commissioner Steve Troxler has announced that now, through December 17th, the Farmland Preservation Trust Fund will be accepting applications from non-profit groups pursuing farmland preservation projects, as well as county governments. The General Assembly appropriated $1.7 million for this grant cycle, down from as much as $8 million in previous years.
Grants can be used to help secure conservation easements on lands used for agricultural production, they can also be used to support public and private enterprise programs that promote profitable and sustainable activities in agriculture, horticulture and forestry.
Applications and guidelines for the current funding cycle are available online at ncadfp.org or by calling 919-707-3071.
“We are accepting grant applications now for this cycle in county governments and nonprofit groups preserving farmland preservation projects can apply for funding assistance from the North Carolina Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust fund.
We have $1.7 million and that sounds like a lot, but when you start putting conservation easements in place, it doesn’t go very far. The very peak of the funding cycle was $8 million so we are down considerably.
We have a real good program, you can actually apply for permanent easements, termed easements or projects or enterprise programs that produce sustainable activities and profitable activities in agriculture, horticulture and forestry. Another use that we have really seen a lot of interest in is using these grants for the creation of farmland protection plans and voluntary agriculture districts.
This (voluntary agriculture districts) is a program that the general assembly created through the Conservation Trust Fund that actually lets counties show people that are wanting to buy land in an agriculture district that there is going to be dust, the smell of animals and tractors on the road. It’s a very important educational piece that does help the public understand what agriculture is.
There is one statistic in North Carolina that I am not proud of. Between 1970 and 2010 North Carolina lost 6 million acres of farmland and 97 thousand farms. This led the Nation. Iowa was a very distant second. This is a reason we are working so hard to preserve the natural resources that we have to have to be successful in agriculture.
We want to keep as many people on the farm as want to be there. Less than 2% of the world’s population is raising the food and the projection is that we have to raise 50% more by the year 2030, we need people on the farms.
To apply for the grant funds you can go online at www.ncadfp.org or call 919-707-3071. The deadline is 5pm on December 17th.”