County Executive Falk Announces County Receives $340,000 Federal Grant to Preserve Farmland in the Highway 12 Corridor
July 22, 2003
Sharyn Wisniewski, County Executive’s Office, (608) 267-8823
Renae Anderson, NRCS, (608) 276-8732 x277
Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk today announced that Dane County has been awarded a $339,875 federal grant to help preserve farmland in the Highway 12 corridor.
“We have some of the best farmland in the world here in Dane County. As the new Highway 12 is built, we are working hard to keep as much land as possible in farming,” said Falk.
The nearly $340,000 grant is from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program, which provides matching funds to purchase the development rights from farmers and place an agricultural easement on the land. The farm remains in the farmer’s hands, but the development pressure is reduced because the perpetual easement keeps the land in agricultural use.
The county’s matching funds will come from part of the $5 million that Falk negotiated with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to make available for land planning and preservation in Dane County’s Highway 12 corridor, from Middleton to the county’s border at Sauk City.
A total of 244 acres in the Highway 12 corridor are targeted to benefit from the federal funds. A number of farm owners have expressed interest in participating in the purchase of development rights program.
Statewide, seven farms, on 1,200 prime agricultural soils and under development pressure were selected, according to Pat Leavenworth, state conservationist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NCRS). With funding of $1.35 million, NRCS was able to fund only about 25 percent of the proposals they received this year.
“A cornfield can be turned into a parking lot in a few days, but it takes a long, long time to turn a parking lot back into a fertile field capable of producing food,” said Leavenworth. “This is one of the best ways to keep prime farmland soils in agriculture and at the same time, keep farming communities thriving by relieving the development pressure.” Farmers are compensated for giving up the right to develop the land.
“Communities along the Highway 12 corridor have an extraordinary commitment to working together on the very challenging issue of preserving the rural character of this part of the county in the face of high development pressure,” said Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk.
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