RALEIGH – County governments and conservation nonprofit groups may apply for grant funding from the N.C. Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund for farmland preservation projects. Applicants have until Dec. 18 to apply.
“Investments in farmland preservation are more important than ever,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “In the face of population growth and development pressure, these grants are critical in preserving North Carolina’s agricultural economy and ensuring food security for future generations.”
A new funding opportunity is available during this grant cycle. County governments and conservation nonprofit groups may apply for funding for Local Agricultural Growth Zones (AGZ). Local AGZs will enhance local investments in agricultural conservation easements by applying for matching funds from the state.
According to research by the American Farmland Trust, large blocks of permanently protected land are one of the most effective sprawl management tools. These Local AGZs are areas of concentrated agricultural conservation easements. Large blocks of protected farmland can be a physical barrier to urban and suburban sprawl. The conservation easements inside Local AGZs are permanently protected from development, creating a buffer between urban areas and agricultural lands. These protected farms and forests can slow down encroachment and preserve the rural character of an area.
Qualifying entities may request up to $2 million per Local AGZs application. Local AGZ applications must include a cash contribution for agricultural conservation easement purchase equal to or greater than the ADFP Trust Fund grant request for agricultural conservation easement purchase.
In addition to the new Local Agricultural Growth Zones grant funds, grants are available for agricultural conservation easements on working lands used for agricultural production; to support public-private enterprise programs that promote profitable and sustainable agricultural, horticultural and forestland activities; and to develop agricultural plans.
Landowners interested in preserving their farms through conservation easements must work with county governments or land trusts to apply for grant funds. If awarded a grant in which the application requests funds for the conservation easement purchase value, landowners will be compensated for the purchase of the development rights.
Grant applications, rules and information packets are available online at www.ncadfp.org/Cycle17.htm. For more information, call the Farmland Preservation office at 919-707-3074.