Virginia’s ag and forestal Land to get streamlined protection from future development

March 20, 2024
 |
ESVA Corn

According to an article in the Virginia Mercury Newspaper by Charlie Pallin, the effort to preserve Virginia’s agricultural and forested land will get a streamlined process of protection from future development, following legislation that will become a law later this year.

Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed the bills from Sen. Todd Pillion, R-Washington, and Del. David Bulova, D-Fairfax, that created the Office of Working Lands Preservation by consolidating state resources for grant easements, legally enforceable mechanisms that prevent development on land in perpetuity.

“Currently there is no one entity solely focused on conservation of workinglands,” Pillion said while presenting the bill in January. “Forestland owners and farmland owners are frequently one in the same, and the resources needed to protect these lands have much overlap.”

The bill — which moves the easement process from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to exist under the Department of Forestry — was sought by the Virginia Farm Bureau, Virginia Agribusiness Council and Virginia Cattlemen’s Association. It was introduced just before the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s latest census report in February showed the number of farms in Virginia shrunk by about 10% from 2017 to 2022, mirroring a national trend.

The farm and forestry industries welcome the measure, solar energy developers say it will heighten the state’s continued challenge of balancing land preservation with clean energy infrastructure creation.

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