North Carolina

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Planning for an Agricultural Future: A Guide for North Carolina Farmers and Local Governments

Planning for an Agricultural Future: A Guide for North Carolina Farmers and Local Governments mixes general discussion of existing tools with specific examples from communities around the state that have developed innovative ways to support their agricultural sector. The guide is organized in five sections:

I. Planning for Agriculture: what American Farmland Trust means when we talk about planning for agriculture and why it is important for your community

North Carolina: Senate Bill Authorizing the Town of Wentworth to Exempt Agricultural Land From Zoning

Under North Carolina's 2005 Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Enabling Act (House Bill 607),cities may amend their ordinances applicable to their planning jurisdiction to provide flexibility to farming operations that are part of VAD programs (N.C. GEN. STAT. § 160A-383.2 (2006)). Some municipalities, such as Wentworth, North Carolina, have also received authority through state bills to provide exemptions for farming or forestry operations that meet certain criteria.

Henderson County, NC: Comprehensive Plan (Excerpt)

With agriculture recognized as an important pillar of the Henderson County economy, the Board of Commissioners devoted a chapter in its comprehensive plan specifically to agriculture. Responding to the strong public interest in agriculture, the County Commissioners chose to focus on three areas—reducing farmland loss, economic development support for agricultural enterprises, and the hiring of an agricultural facilitator within county government

Cumberland County, NC: Model Easement (Term)

Cumberland County is using an innovative conservation agreement with landowners to encourage compatible land use around Fort Bragg, the largest army installation in the world. The county developed a unique solution that offers all landowners with 5-acre tracts a compensation payment equivalent to a percentage of their property taxes, in exchange for 5- or 10-year conservation agreements to limit urbanand residential development.

Polk County, NC: Enhanced Voluntary Agricultural District Agreement (Term Easement)

In 2005, the North Carolina General Assembly authorized a new Enhanced Voluntary Agricultural Districts (EVAD) option that counties and cities can add to their local Farmland Preservation ordinances (N.C. GEN. STAT. § 106-743(2006)).This EVAD option created a new category that would offer landowners an additional tier of benefits, if they were willing to waive their right to withdraw from the VAD program at any time. Those landowners who wished to retain their right for immediate withdrawal could continue under current guidelines.

Cabarrus County, NC: Agreement to Enter Enhanced Voluntary Agricultural District

In 2005, the North Carolina General Assembly authorized a new Enhanced Voluntary Agricultural Districts (EVAD) option that counties and cities can add to their local Farmland Preservation ordinances. The EVAD options allows for enhanced benefits for landowners willing to waive their right to withdraw from the VAD program at any time.  The program uses a conservation easement to ensure that subject land remains in agricultural use.  

North Carolina Voluntary Agricultural Districts: A Progress Report

This report assesses the status of North Carolina's Voluntary Agricultural Districts (VAD) Program as of June 2004. Authorized in the state Farmland Preservation Enabling Act of 1985, the VAD program allows counties to adopt farmland preservation ordinances to establish local VADs. Local VADs are areas where commercial agriculture is encouraged and protected. They provide a series of benefits to farmers willing to restrict non-agricultural development for ten years. County commissioners appoint advisory boards to administer the districts.

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