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Agricultural Preservation Board

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The Agricultural Preservation Board (APB) is an advisory board of citizens appointed by the Board of County Commissioners. The APB was created in 1987, and charged with advising the Board of County Commissioners on issues affecting the agricultural economy of Orange County. Based on recommendations from a 1981 agricultural task force report To Preserve Our Farms, APB drafted a local farmland preservation ordinance that would establish voluntary agricultural districts. The first voluntary agricultural district was designated by the Board of County Commissioners in 1992. Since the designation of the initial district, 2,894 acres have been certified as qualifying farmland, and nine farms totaling 1,819 acres have enrolled in Voluntary Agricultural Districts.

In recent years, the Agricultural Preservation Board has focused on a more comprehensive approach to farmland preservation. A public forum was held with representatives of the American Farmland Trust and the Agricultural Reserve Board of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and a series of training workshops in the use of voluntary conservation easements as a means of farmland preservation through estate planning were also conducted.

In February 1999, the APB participated in the first Agricultural Summit. Over 100 participants from all sectors of Orange County agriculture heard presentations by farmers who have successfully diversified their operations, as well as presentations in organic production, land use taxation, farm conservation strategies, and an overview of the recently announced tobacco industry settlement and establishment of trust funds to help tobacco growers and communities. The summit continues on an annual basis.

The APB addressed agriculture and economic development issues with the EDC in 2001. The APB looks ahead to 2003-04 with plans to recommend revisions to the Voluntary Farmland Preservation Program Ordinance to make it easier for small and alternative farms to qualify. The Board will also work on the designation of Agricultural Priority Areas, including the first ever map of Orange County farm lands by type of production. Finally, the APB will continue to pursue farm economic viability by participating in ventures and programs designed to promote value-added local products and tap local markets for local products.