County, two local land trusts receive Grange grant to preserve farmland

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 6, 2024

STATESVILLE — The N.C. Grange has awarded 27 grants to landowners, county agencies and conservation nonprofits to assist in protecting farm and forest lands across the state. The Rowan County Soil & Water Conservation District, Working Lands Trust and Three Rivers Land Trust all received grants to aid in land preservation efforts within the county.

This is the second consecutive year the organization has offered these grants.

North Carolina currently has the ranking of second in the nation, behind Texas, for the threat of land conversion to development, as noted in the American Farmland Trust’s study, “Farms Under Threat: The State of the States,” even though it is only ranked 30th in total agricultural acreage. The report projected 1.1 million acres of North Carolina farmland would be converted away from agricultural use based on current development numbers with a potential to increase to 1.6 million acres if anticipated development acceleration continues.

To assist in ebbing the tide of farmland conversion, N.C. Grange gave 25 grants, valued at $3,000 each, to North Carolina counties and conservation non-profits for agricultural conservation project expenditures.

“The N.C. Grange is excited to provide these grants in the protection of an estimated 4,000 plus farm acres in North Carolina,” said N.C. Grange President Jimmy Gentry.

Providing the grant funding assures the completion of an agricultural conservation easement that is held by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service’s agriculture land easement or the N.C. Department of Agriculture’s farmland preservation programs.

This year’s grantees are Working Lands Trust; Three Rivers Land Trust; Southwestern N.C. Resource Conservation & Development; and soil and water conservation districts in Beaufort, Davie, Haywood, Johnston, Lee and Rowan counties.

Additionally, N.C. Grange provided two $4,500 grants to local government agencies to support their county Volunteer Agricultural District program for public awareness signage. Relevant landowners will be provided with free signage to promote their farms as being part of an operational agricultural production area. This year’s grantees are Johnston County Soil & Water District and Sampson County N.C. Cooperative Extension.

“The N.C. Grange is excited to be a partner in North Carolina agriculture and its agribusiness economy. These grants will help our farms and forest lands remain protected and available for production in support of our state’s No. 1 industry, which is estimated to be $103.2 billion, for generations to come,” said Gentry.

The N.C. Grange is a nonprofit organization with a goal of supporting farmers and advocating for North Carolina agriculture. It works to give its members a legislative voice and bring people together to serve communities across the state.