Avery County Farmland Protection Plan
It is very important that we reach everyone in order to get their help in this endeavor. The surveys will provide certain trends and opinions that may not be ascertained in any other way. The Farmland Protection Plan is basically a snapshot of the general state of farming in Avery County, in a given time period. The plan does this by documenting the historical farming practices, the areas of the county in which farming takes place, reviewing data from Cooperative Extension, NCRS, Avery Soil and Water Conservation Agency, Avery County Tax Department, the latest Soil Survey information and, most importantly, you the citizen.
The Agriculture Advisory Board outreach will kickoff in January 2013. There will be multiple opportunities for anyone to give ideas and opinions. The surveys will be at all agricultural educational classes during spring 2013, and Avery County Cooperative Extension Center will be mailing out the Agricultural Survey to all farmers on our mailing lists in January 2013. The non-agricultural survey will be placed in local newspapers and will be mailed out to local businesses. We will also be posting both surveys on Avery County Cooperative Extension Center’s website, accessed by clicking to http://www.avery.ces.ncsu.edu.
If anyone is interested in helping complete the Farmland Protection Plan, contact Jerry Moody, county extension director, at Avery County Cooperative Extension Center at (828) 733-8270 or also you can contact Ann Coleman, advisory board chair, at (828) 737-9253.
Once the plan is completed a draft will be available for public comment. The advisory board will then present it to Avery County Board of Commissioners for review and acceptance. At that point, the plan will be submitted to the different economic planning boards in Avery County for their use in developing their future plans. In this manner hopefully farming will be preserved for future generations.
The Farmland Protection Plan contains many different components. These components can be summed up in the following points.
• A description of existing agricultural activity in the county;
• A list and description of existing challenges that farmers face on a day-to-day basis;
• Identified opportunities for maintaining or enhancing small family owned farms and the local agricultural economy;
• A description or game plan on how the county can maintain and encourage a viable agricultural community;
• A schedule for implementing the plan and an identification of possible funding sources for the long-term support of the plan.
Key challenges that Avery County farmers are facing are items such as: soaring land values, steep land unsuitable for most types of farming, scarcity of farm labor, loss of markets or depression of markets, restraints that artificially increase costs to small family farms and generation transition. These items are addressed in this plan and will be useful to citizens, farmers and government as we plan for saving and maintaining our farmland.
If you have any questions or comments regarding the Farmland Protection Plan, contact Jerry Moody, county extension director, at Avery County Cooperative Extension Center at (828) 733-8270 or Ann Coleman, advisory board chair, at (828) 737-9253.