$270 million in farmland preservation grants awarded to five Virginia localities

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Virginia will distribute $270,000 in farmland preservation grants to five localities, Gov. Ralph Northam’s office announced this week.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been reminded how important Virginia’s farms are to getting food into our stores and onto our tables,” Northam said in a statement. “In addition to being a vital part of our history, agriculture is central to our growing economy and maintaining the outstanding quality of life we enjoy in our Commonwealth. Partnering with local governments to preserve critical working landscapes and protect our abundant natural resources is key to maximizing the conservation impact of state funds.”

The commonwealth will use the Purchase of Development Rights programs to match local government funding to permanently preserve farmland. The program gives incentives to landowners who protect their working lands and it lets localities limit development on priority farm and forest land.

Four counties are receiving money from the fund: Albemarle, Clarke, Fauquier and Stafford. The city of Chesapeake is also receiving money.

“Agriculture and forestry are critical to Virginia residents, and conserving these working lands protects the economic and environmental benefits they provide while also aiding farm succession planning,” Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring said in a statement. “The Virginia Farmland Preservation Fund helps maintain the rural and agricultural character of our Commonwealth and ensures our farms remain available for continued agriculture and forestry production.”

The Virginia Farmland Preservation Fund has allocated about $12.4 million in matching funds from the state for 16 local programs since 2008.

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