Swain County Volunatary Ag Program
What is the Voluntary Agricultural District Program?
The purpose of the Voluntary and Enhanced Agricultural District Program is to encourage the voluntary preservation and protection of farmland from non-farm development. This is in recognition of the importance of agriculture to the economic and social life of the country.
The North Carolina General Assembly authorized the counties to undertake a series of programs to encourage the preservation of farmland and agriculture. This statutory authority is found in Chapter 106, Article 61 of North Carolina General Statutes. The Swain County Voluntary & Enhanced Voluntary Farmland Preservation Program Ordinance was adopted by the Swain County Board of Commissioners the tenth day of August, 2009.
This ordinance provides for the creation of an Agricultural Advisory Board to administer this program. The Board will review and approve applications for qualifying farmland as well as establishing a Voluntary and an Enhanced Agricultural Districts (VAD) and promote the local agricultural industry. The Board is composed of seven county residents who are appointed by the county commissioners.
What Qualifies As Farmland?
The qualified farm must be participating in the farm present-use-value taxation program established by the North Carolina General Statute, or otherwise be determined by the county to meet all the qualifications of this program set forth in N.C.G.S. §105-277.3. Individually owned agricultural land, consisting of at least ten acres, that has produced an average annual income of one thousand dollars over a three-year period; or individually owned horticultural land, consisting of at least five acres, producing an average income of one thousand dollars per year; or individually owned forest land consisting of at twenty acres that are in actual production and not included in a farm unit.
What will joining the Voluntary Agricultural District Program do for me?
The Voluntary Agricultural District, VAD, and Enhanced Voluntary Agriculture District, EVAD, Program will help increase the identity and pride in the agricultural community and its way of life. It will also aid in the prevention of conflicts between VAD or EVAD participants and non-farm landowners. Maps designating participating farms that form Voluntary Agricultural Districts will be posted in the County Tax Office, Register of Deeds Office, the Swain Soil & Water Conservation District Office, and the local Cooperative Extension Center. Participants will receive a sign to post on their property. As part of a VAD and EVAD, public meetings will be required for condemnation of land by state or local public agencies. Participating landowners in certified districts may not be required to connect to water and or sewer systems or be assessed water and sewer charges until that property is connected to such services.
All EVAD members will automatically qualify for a cost share rate of 90% on all BMP's through the NCACSP and the Swain Soil and Water Conservation District. Voluntary Agriculture District members will still qualify for the 75% Ag. Cost Share rate in accordance with the North Carolina Division of Soil and Water.