BEALETON—Governor Ralph Northam announced that more than 100 conservation easements for working farms and forests have been secured through the Virginia Farmland Preservation Fund. By providing matching funds to support local Purchase of Development Rights programs, the Fund enhances the viability of Virginia agriculture and forestry by empowering individual localities to limit development on the farmland and forestland that each community has deemed a priority for conservation. The Governor visited Messick’s Farm Market to celebrate this achievement and has also issued a proclamation to commemorate the major milestone.

“My administration has made farmland and forestland retention one of our highest priorities, recognizing the significant contributions these lands make to our economy and the important role they have in Virginia’s history and outstanding quality of life,” said Governor Northam. “Together with our conservation partners, we are making the necessary investments in our communities to help maintain the rural and agricultural character of our Commonwealth and ensure our working lands remain unfettered by development and available for continued agriculture or forestry production.”

Since 2008, sixteen localities have used state funding to purchase 102 conservation easements covering 13,917 acres at a cost of $32,897,840. Participating localities contributed $15,206,855 towards these projects, with the Virginia Farmland Preservation Fund providing $11,896,900 and the remainder coming from a combination of federal, state, and private funds. Conservation easements supported by the Virginia Farmland Preservation Fund perpetually ensure these protected lands stay intact as working farms and forests.

The Virginia Farmland Preservation Fund is administered by the Office of Farmland Preservation within the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumers Services. This Office was created by the Virginia General Assembly in 2001 to educate the public on the importance of farmland preservation to the quality of life in the Commonwealth, help farmers in preserving their land and transitioning their business between generations, and assist local governments interested in developing additional farmland preservation policies and programs.

More information about the Virginia Farmland Preservation Fund and the Office of Farmland Preservation, and details about how localities can establish their own Purchase of Development Rights Program is available here.