Farmland Preservation Programs in Cleveland County

Farmland Preservation Programs in Cleveland County

Cleveland County has a strong agricultural heritage… and agriculture is important today. Agriculture contributes $40 million annually to the local economy, improves quality of life, and enhances the scenic diversity of our countryside.

A recent environmental scan conducted by N.C. Cooperative Extension reveals that Cleveland County citizens are concerned about the future of agriculture. Of particular concern is our growing population and loss of farmland to residential development.

Citizens also noted a decline in commercial agriculture and full-time farming operations and expressed the need to preserve Cleveland County’s farming legacy for future generations.

Cleveland County farmers and landowners have several options for sustaining their farming operations and protecting their land, including those described below:

  • Present Use Taxation Program – Land that is used for agricultural production can be taxed at a rate which reflects its present use, saving farmers money on property taxes. For example, if the land is used for growing crops, trees, or producing livestock, it will be taxed at the lower rate for agricultural land, even if it’s actual market value is much higher.
  • Voluntary Farmland Preservation – Through the work of the several agricultural agencies, farm organizations, and Cleveland County government, we now have in place a Voluntary Farmland Preservation Program. Under this program, farmers sign an agreement to voluntarily forego developing their property for 10 years. Click here to view the application.
  • Sales and Use Tax Exemptions – Farmers, producers, and commercial animals farmers are exempt from sales tax on seeds, fertilizer, lime, packing materials, feed, and tangible personal property. Machinery purchased or leased for farming use is subject to a 1% tax with a maximum tax of $80 per article. To qualify for the exemption, farmers must complete an Agricultural Certificate prepared by the North Carolina Department of Revenue.
  • Farm Lease Agreements – Landowners may elect to lease their property to farmers who will keep the land in production agriculture. Leasing property for farm use may affect the status of that property under the Present Use Taxation Program, listed above. Lease rates are negotiable, but typically range from $15-$25 per acre per year, providing the landowner some income and covering the expense of property taxes. By offering an extended lease term, landowners provide farmers the incentive to invest in farming inputs that enhance property appearance and land values (lime, fertilizer, fencing, etc.). Both parties should consider entering into a written lease agreement.
  • Conservation Reserve Program – (CRP) is a voluntary program for agricultural landowners. Through CRP, you can receive annual rental payments and cost-share assistance to establish long-term, resource conserving covers on eligible farmland. The Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) makes annual rental payments based on the agriculture rental value of the land, and it provides cost-share assistance for up to 50 percent of the participant’s costs in establishing approved conservation practices. Participants enroll in CRP contracts for 10 to 15 years. The program is administered by the CCC through the Farm Service Agency (FSA), and program support is provided by Natural Resources Conservation Service, Cooperative State Research and Education Extension Service, state forestry agencies, and local Soil and Water Conservation Districts. For more information, contact Cleveland County’s Farm Service Agency at (704) 471-0235.

Written By

Photo of John Dorner, IVJohn Dorner, IVArea Agent, Information Management (828) 290-9876 john_dorner@ncsu.eduMadison County, North Carolina
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