Agriculture is Macon County’s third largest industry. The county’s 346 farms generate $8.8 million annually through farming, forestry, and horticulture. Agriculture is a vital economic engine to Macon County and it helps the county hold fast to its unique rural character and farming heritage.
The Macon County Voluntary Ag District (VAD) Board or some know it as Farmland Preservation Board is comprised of local farmers dedicated to making the agricultural voice of Macon County energized as one voice. The Board received grant funding from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services’ (NCDA&CS) Ag Development Farmland Preservation Trust Fund (ADFPTF) to assist farmers in three ways:
1. To enroll farmers in the Voluntary Ag District (VAD) Program
2. To protect and preserve farmland
3. To increase the farms’ revenues and to educate the public about farming
The purpose of the Voluntary Agricultural District Program is to encourage the preservation and protection of farmland from non-farm development. Agricultural districts increase identity and take pride in the agricultural community and its way of life. The Program recognizes the importance of agriculture to the economic and social well being of North Carolina.
The VAD program provides the following benefits to the farmer:
— Recognition and public education about agriculture - Members of the program will be given signs to post, identifying their farm as a member of a preservation district, indicating to any potential neighbors and passersby that your land is committed to the preservation of the agriculture way of life.
— Increased protection from nuisance suits - Notice on the property signaling Agricultural District membership and a notice in the computerized land record system making those within a half mile of an Agricultural District farm aware of the potential for noise, odor, dust, or slow moving farm vehicles associated with farming.
— Waiver of water and sewer assessments - Landowners within Agricultural Districts who are not connected to water or sewer systems operated by the county can have water and sewer assessments waived.
— Public hearings required for proposed condemnation
- Public hearing held by the Agricultural Advisory Board if the land in an Agricultural District is considered for a public project that may condemn land.
— Eligibility for funding - District members may be eligible for farmland preservation funds as local, state, or federal funds become available.
— Official role in county or city government - The Agricultural Advisory Board acts as advisor to the governing board of the county or city on projects, program, or issues affecting the agricultural economy or way of life within the county or city.
The Voluntary Ag Board encourages all farmers who qualify to enroll their farms in the VAD program. Contact the Macon County Soil & Water office, (828)524-3311, if you want to enroll in the Ag District program or if you have questions.
The benefits of the VAD program will go well beyond the ones listed above. With the monies received from the NCDA&CS ADFPTF grant, the Board has put together a series of events for the farmers, the county government, and the public. The intent is to celebrate Macon County’s agriculture and its supporting business by working together to increase farm revenue, educate the public and the county government about agriculture. The focus will be the economic importance of Ag and identifying ways to grow the farming sectors and their supporting businesses.
Agriculture is the largest industry in NC and generates $75 billion. Agriculture and agribusiness is 20.3 percent of NC’s income. 17 percent of the state’s workforce is enrolled in agriculture or agribusiness related jobs. Agriculture is the fastest growing industry in NC and Macon County can enjoy the financial benefits that farming brings.
Farmers are invited to enroll your farm in the VAD program and enjoy the advantages it brings.