Kathleen Ward, Director of Development & Communications
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Preservation allows farmer to keep 70-acre farm
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE/ 07/05/16
ALLOWAY TWP. - Farmer Joe Doak faced a dilemma several years ago when the farm next door went up for sale.
Borrowing money to buy 70 additional acres would be a financial strain, but it was an opportunity he might never see again. "It's not too often that you can put farms together like this," noted Doak, who now owns 300 contiguous acres.
Fortunately, federal and state farmland preservation programs exist to help farmers like Doak. By selling the development rights on agricultural land, farmers gain much-needed capital to pay off debts, make improvements or expand operations.
On June 3, Doak preserved his farm by selling the development rights to New Jersey Conservation Foundation. He still owns the land, and uses are now permanently restricted to agriculture.
"It's a big relief for me," said Doak, whose original farm is also preserved. "It made the difference between being able to keep the farm and having to sell it."
The 70 acres were preserved using funds from the State Agriculture Development Committee and New Jersey Conservation Foundation's grant funds from the U.S Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service.
"We're very pleased to preserve this farmland, which made it more affordable for the farmer," said Michele S. Byers, executive director of New Jersey Conservation Foundation.
The newly-preserved farm, located on Woodstown-Alloway Road, grows hay and corn, and includes a large pond and a tributary of the Swedes Run. Its soils are all prime or statewide-important, the highest classifications for crop productivity.
The farm is across the street from the Chard family farm, which was preserved in April, and near other preserved farmland. It is located within the Swedes' Run Forest, an area of extensive woodlands interspersed with working farms at the far northern fringe of the Burden Hill Forest complex in Salem County.
"The preservation of this farm shows that farmland preservation accomplishes more than just permanently protecting the land," said Agriculture Secretary Douglas H. Fisher. "It also helps strengthen farming businesses by providing farmers with the capital they need to expand, pay off debt or make needed investments in their farming operations."
Natural Resources Conservation Service State Conservationist Carrie Lindig said, "The preservation of this farm is a benefit for the local community and the state. It protects important agricultural lands in the Garden State, and 95 percent of the property is open agriculture which absorbs storm water and replenishes groundwater in the watershed. The benefits are compounded because it is adjacent to other preserved parcels."
Lindig added, "We supported the preservation of this farmland through the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program. Although that program was repealed in the 2014 Farm Bill, NRCS continues to be able to help protect agricultural lands in New Jersey through the Agricultural Land Easement component of the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP-ALE)."
New Jersey Conservation Foundation is a private nonprofit that preserves land and natural resources throughout New Jersey for the benefit of all. Since 1960, New Jersey Conservation has protected 125,000 acres of open space - from the Highlands to the Pine Barrens to the Delaware Bayshore, from farms to forests to urban and suburban parks. For more information about the Foundation's programs and preserves, go to www.njconservation.org or call 1-888-LAND-SAVE (1-888-526-3728).
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