Members of the St. Mary’s County, Maryland Board of Agriculture, Seafood, and Forestry are asking county commissioners to provide $5 million to fund agricultural protection programs aimed at preventing development of crucial cropland.
The county group is seeking to fulfill a 1990’s era pledge to preserve 60,000 acres within the following 20 years. According to local agricultural activists, the county is 43,000 acres short of its goal. The $5 million is necessary, they say, to fulfill the county’s earlier pledge. Current allotment for farmland preservation is $1.5 million.
Activists say that the county has plenty of money to aid in farmland preservation. St. Mary’s County currently has $30 million in surplus left over from 2011. County officials, however, say that this money needs to be spent on retiree benefits, capital projects, and infrastructure improvements.
Farmland preservation is a major issue, not only in Maryland, but also in many states with expanding urban and suburban centers. State like California and New Jersey, for example, spend significant amounts of public money on public farmland preservation programs. Agricultural activists argue that even though national land values are high, in part due to increasing crop values, now is a vital time to protect farmland. Many retiring farmers may look to sell their land to the highest bidder, often suburban developers hoping to expand real estate projects. Farmland preservation helps to ensure that agricultural production remains stable.
To learn more about agricultural financing opportunities contact a Farm Plus Financial representative by calling 866-929-5585 or by visiting www.farmloans.com.
Follow us on: Twitter
Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer