Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 3.2. Agriculture, Animal Care, and Food
Chapter 2. Preservation of Farm and Forest Lands
5/22/2022

Article 1. Office of Farmland Preservation.

§ 3.2-200. Agricultural Vitality Program continued as Office of Farmland Preservation.

The Agricultural Vitality Program within the Department is continued and hereafter shall be known as the Office of Farmland Preservation.

2001, c. 521, § 3.1-18.9; 2008, c. 860.

§ 3.2-201. Powers and duties of Office of Farmland Preservation.

A. The Office of Farmland Preservation shall have the following powers and duties:

1. To develop, in cooperation with the Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity, the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, the American Farmland Trust, the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation, the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, the Virginia Association of Counties, and the Virginia Cooperative Extension: (i) model policies and practices that may be used as a guide to establish local purchase of development rights programs; (ii) criteria for the certification of local purchase of development rights programs as eligible to receive grants, loans or other funds from public sources; and (iii) methods and sources of revenue for allocating funds to localities to purchase agricultural conservation easements;

2. To create programs to educate the public about the importance of farmland preservation to the quality of life in the Commonwealth;

3. To provide technical, professional, and other assistance to farmers on matters related to farmland preservation;

4. To provide technical, professional, and other assistance to local governments interested in developing additional farmland preservation policies and programs. Such policies and programs shall include (i) use value assessment and taxation pursuant to §§ 58.1-3230 and 58.1-3231; (ii) transfer of development rights pursuant to Article 7.1 (§ 15.2-2316.1 et seq.) of Chapter 22 of Title 15.2; (iii) agricultural and forestal districts pursuant to Chapter 43 (§ 15.2-4300 et seq.) of Title 15.2; and (iv) establishment of local lease of development rights; and

5. To administer the Virginia Farm Link program established pursuant to § 3.2-202.

B. State grants shall be distributed to local purchase of development rights programs under policies, procedures, and guidelines developed by the Office of Farmland Preservation. In general, for each $1 in grant moneys awarded by the Office, the applicable local purchase of development rights program of the county or city shall be required to provide a $1 match. However, as part of these policies, procedures, and guidelines developed by the Office, the Office shall include incentives that recognize and encourage counties and cities participating in use value taxation pursuant to Article 4 (§ 58.1-3229 et seq.) of Chapter 32 of Title 58.1.

C. There is hereby created in the state treasury a special nonreverting fund to be known as the Virginia Farmland Preservation Fund, hereafter referred to as "the Fund." The Fund shall be established on the books of the Comptroller. The Fund shall consist of all moneys appropriated to it by the General Assembly and such moneys as may be made available from any other source, public or private. All moneys shall be paid into the state treasury and credited to the Fund. Interest earned on moneys in the Fund shall remain in the Fund and be credited to it. Any moneys remaining in the Fund, including interest thereon, at the end of each fiscal year shall not revert to the general fund but shall remain in the Fund. Moneys in the Fund shall be used solely for the purposes of carrying out the provisions of this chapter. Expenditures and disbursements from the Fund shall be made by the State Treasurer on warrants issued by the Comptroller upon written request signed by the Commissioner.

2001, c. 521, § 3.1-18.10; 2008, cc. 530, 860; 2009, c. 389; 2011, cc. 95, 160; 2013, c. 482.

§ 3.2-202. Virginia Farm Link program.

There is hereby created the Virginia Farm Link program to provide assistance to retiring farmers and individuals seeking to become active farmers in the transition of farm businesses and properties from retiring farmers to active farmers. Such assistance shall include: (i) assistance in the preparation of business plans for the transition of business interests; (ii) assistance in the facilitation of transfers of existing properties and agricultural operations to interested buyers; (iii) information on innovative farming methods and techniques; and (iv) research assistance on agricultural, financial, marketing, and other matters.

2001, c. 521, § 3.1-18.11; 2008, c. 860.

§ 3.2-203. Reporting requirements.

The Commissioner shall submit a written report on the operation of the Office of Farmland Preservation by December 1 of each year to the chairmen of the House Committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources and the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources. The provisions of this chapter shall not preclude local purchase of development rights programs established pursuant to the Open-Space Land Act (§ 10.1-1700 et seq.) from being eligible to receive grants, loans, or other funds from public sources.

2001, c. 521, § 3.1-18.12; 2008, c. 860.