2009 is on track to be a record breaker for County preservation efforts.
Sussex County continues to move forward with a successful Farmland Preservation program. Although State funding is currently depleted, the Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders continues to support this program, which preserves farmland in perpetuity. A dedicated tax was approved by the voters of Sussex County in 2005 that continues to provide program funding. There are now 120 preserved farms in Sussex County, encompassing 13,411 acres that will remain in agriculture. This program keeps the land in the hands of the landowner and it remains on the tax rolls as farm assessed property; only an easement is purchased. Lsat year was a very busy year for farms to enter into the farmland preservation program - the County closed on 18 farms totaling 1,566 acres. However, 2009 is on track to be a record breaker for County preservation efforts. Between January 1 and May 8, 2009, 15 closings have occurred (for 784 acres) with an ambitious schedule ahead.
Over the years, the types of farms in Sussex County have changed. Where dairies once abounded, nurseries, sheep, beef and Christmas tree farms now exist. This is the changing face of agriculture not only in Sussex County but in New Jersey. Technological advances allow higher crop yields on smaller parcels. The increasing urban/suburban population, proximate to Sussex County, provides opportunities for farmers offering agritourism activities like pick your own veggies, cut your own Christmas trees, harvest hayrides, and pumpkin picking, which sustain their bottom line. Many traditional farm operations now include an agritourism component to maintain agricultural viability. Farmland preservation supports both the protection of the land base and the viability of the agricultural industry in Sussex County. For more information about farms participating in agritourism, visit www.sussexfarmvisits.com. For an application for farmland preservation, contact email@example.com. And check out the Sussex County Board of Agriculture on-line forum at www.sussexcountyboardofagriculture.org.