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know more/lost farmland

May 06, 2007

The issue: In the past five years, Washington County has lost 1,000 acres of farmland to development, but has preserved 5,400 acres of farmland in that same time frame. There still are 100,000 acres of farmland to preserve, but farmers can't afford to buy it up at the cost of land.

What's new: A proposed transferable development rights program would enable Washington County farmers to sell their development rights to a developer in a growth area, which would provide compensation for the farmer while keeping the farmer's land in agriculture and stripping them of development rights. The developer would be able to build at a higher density in the growth area.

What's next: The Washington County Commissioners likely will revisit the transferable development rights program proposal after they resolve budget issues, said Eric Seifarth, the county's land preservation administrator. Farmers can participate in land preservation programs offered through the county and can market their produce in different ways to maximize their profits.

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