RICHMOND — Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced Clarke, Fauquier, and Stafford counties and the cities of Chesapeake and Virginia Beach as the fiscal year 2023 Virginia Farmland Preservation Fund grant recipients Wednesday.
“Virginia is home to approximately 16 million acres of forests and over 7.7 million acres of farmland and we are proud to support the preservation of these natural resources,” said Youngkin. “Farms and working forests are the foundation of Virginia’s rural economy, and farmland preservation benefits landowners, local communities, and the environment.”
The five localities have been awarded a total of $875,000 from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Office of Farmland Preservation, according to a press release from the Governor’s office.
Those localities will provide matching funds to support local Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) programs, which allow localities to limit development on priority farm and forest lands and provide an incentive to landowners to voluntarily protect their working lands.
“As our first and third largest private industries in the Commonwealth, Agriculture and forestry are essential to the lives of all Virginians regardless of where they live,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Matthew Lohr. “Protecting our working landscapes intact and productive is essential to maintaining Virginia’s agricultural viability into the future. These areas grow the food we all depend on while purifying the air we breathe.”
A total of $13.2 million in state matching funds has been used to partner with 16 local PDR programs to permanently protect more than 14,800 acres on 113 farms since the program’s inception in 2008.
“Throughout Virginia’s history, farming and forestry have been central to the culture of the state’s residents and the management of our natural resources,” said Acting Secretary of Natural and Historic Resources Travis Voyles. “In addition to their economic impact, the land used for agriculture and forestry continues to provide vital environmental and aesthetic benefits.”
Localities interested in creating a PDR program or implementing other best practices should contact Jen Perkins, Coordinator, Office of Farmland Preservation, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, at email@example.com or 804-786-1906.