Troxler: Latest Farmland Preservation Efforts Save More Than 800 Acres

The NCDA&CS’s Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund recently signed the first two conservation easements under a joint partnership with the U.S. Air Force. The project protects more than 800 acres from two farms in Northeastern North Carolina, and includes land that is also valued by the military for training purposes. These easements are mutually beneficial to agriculture and the military, keeping that land open for agricultural production and also training for military readiness. NC Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Troxler explains how it happened:

  • Staff members of our Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund along with staff from the Working Lands Trust recently signed conservation easements that were the first of their kind in the state.
  • These easements on over 800 acres in Northeastern North Carolina came about through a joint partnership between the trust fund and the U.S. Air Force, bringing together state and federal funds on the $1.5 million project. It is important to note that these are voluntary easements with landowners.
  • The effort will ensure that the land will stay in agricultural production, but will also allow for military training to ensure our military members are ready to respond.
  • As the top two industries in the state, we realized that we have common interests when it comes to protecting land from development and have partnered together in efforts to protect lands deemed to be high-priority to the military and agriculture.
  • This type of partnership allows us to bring more resources to the table to protect these mission-critical areas of land.
  • I have had an ongoing interest in farmland preservation since I first took office, because we need to take steps now to ensure that future generations have access to the natural resources they will need to produce food, fiber and fuel.
  • It hasn’t been that many years ago that we led the country in the loss of farmland, something we have worked very hard to turn around. But, this is an ongoing effort and something we need to remain diligent about.
  • Earlier this year, the state secured $9.2 million in federal funding to support conservation efforts by the Eastern North Carolina Sentinel Landscape Partnership, which includes the department, the Army, Marine Corps, Air Force and other federal, state, local and nonprofits organizations.
  • Of that money, $3.4 million was designated to protect 4,500 acres of high-priority land necessary to maintain training airspace.
  • This is a win-win for our state’s two largest industries, but really it is a bigger win for future generations.
  • I am grateful to the partnership with the military and I believe these easements will be the first of many more to follow.