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Agriculture still state’s leading industry

By Marsha McGraw

NC Cooperative Extension

Why is farmland protection important in North Carolina?

Agriculture and related businesses comprise North Carolina’s leading industry with a value of over $91.9 billion. From 2012 to 2017, North Carolina has lost 3,800 farms.  This trend threatens to impact our agricultural heritage in many ways, from the loss of farm-related income to reduced availability of fresh food, wildlife habitat and much more.

Why is farmland protection important in Davie County?  A

According to the 2017 Census of Agriculture, Davie County has 76,933 acres in farms, and 591 farms with an average size of 130 acres. Gross sales of agricultural products are just under $27 million annually with approximately 54 percent from livestock and 46 percent from crops.

Voluntary Agricultural Districts (VADs), Enhanced Voluntary Agricultural Districts (EVADs) and Farmland Protection Plans recognize the importance of agriculture to the economic and social well-being of North Carolina by encouraging the preservation and protection of farmland from non-farm development.

On Jan. 7, 2008 the Davie County Board of Commissioners adopted the Davie County Voluntary Agricultural District and Enhanced Voluntary Agricultural District Ordinance.  Amendments were made in 2012 and again in 2018.  The plan was commissioned by Davie County Government in 2016 and it is intended to be a working guide to understanding the status of farms in the county, threats to and opportunities for the continuance of agriculture and practical options for both policies and strategies that will protect agriculture and preserve it for future generations.

Davie County has 50 farms and 6,100 acres enrolled in the VAD program.  Three farms and 265 acres are enrolled in the EVAD program.

To qualify to become a member of a VAD or EVAD, a farm must be real property engaged in agriculture, be managed in accordance with the Natural Resources Conservation defined erosion control practices and be subject to a conservation agreement that prohibits non-farm development for a period of at least 10 years.  This agreement is revocable for VAD members and irrevocable for EVAD members for a 10-year period.

As a part of a Voluntary Agricultural District, public hearings will be required on a proposed condemnation by state or local public agencies. Developers of major subdivisions must note all agricultural districts within one-half mile radius on final development plans.  This will give added protection from nuisance suits.  The county will notify the public of the Agricultural Districts by posting maps in county offices, and there is a Voluntary Agricultural Districts map layer available on the county online mapping site.

The districts will help to increase the identity and pride of the agricultural community and its way of life.

Applications for the Voluntary or Enhanced Voluntary Agricultural Districts program are available at N.C. Cooperative Extension, Davie County Center, 180 S. Main St. in Downtown Mocksville. The $75 application fee must be paid when submitting an application.  If approved, applicants will receive a Davie County Agricultural District farm/road sign, a “mailbox” sign, and paid recording fees. If the application is not approved, the application fee will be refunded.

For more information or questions, contact McGraw, field crop agent, with the Davie County Extension Center at 336-753-6100.