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July 3, 2012

COMMUNITY MEETINGS SET ON PLAN TO SUPPORT FARMING, AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION

Ideas from public to be taken online and in July public meetings

 

Catawba County is beginning development of a plan to provide long term support to agricultural land in the county that will focus on economic development for agriculture and the recruitment of young farmers. The public is invited to submit ideas and suggestions online at
www.catawbacountync.gov/Planning/Sustainability/or at a set of public workshops that will begin on Monday, July 9.

“Catawba County has been focusing on preserving and supporting agriculture for years, including the Board of Commissioners action in 2008 to create Voluntary Agriculture Districts to encourage the preservation and protection of farmland,” said Mary George, Assistant Planning Director. “Now we are taking this effort further by developing a specific plan to focus on agricultural economic development, recruit younger farmers and provide tools for farm transitioning in the county.”

The plan will follow a detailed study by a committee of citizens and officials, with expertise in a variety of areas, who will list and describe existing agricultural activity in Catawba County. Existing challenges to continued family farming in the county will be listed, along with opportunities for maintaining or enhancing small, family-owned farms and the local agricultural economy.

Committee members and County staff say public input will be crucial as the plan is developed. Community meetings begin July 9. The public may choose to attend any of the meetings to learn more and share their ideas and input. All meetings will run from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at these locations:

Monday, July 9, 2012-Fred T. Foard High School cafeteria, 3407 Plateau Road, Newton

Thursday, July 12, 2012- Bandys High School cafeteria, 5040 E. Bandys Road, Catawba

Tuesday, July 24- Bunker Hill High School cafeteria- 4675 Oxford School Road, Claremont

“Once a period of fact finding is completed, the committee will develop the plan with the input from the community,” said Jeff Carpenter, Catawba County Cooperative Extension Director, who is chairing the committee. “It will include a description of how the County plans to maintain a viable agricultural community and address tools to support farming. These tools include agricultural economic development, farm diversification and marketing assistance, and other kinds of agricultural technical assistance such as farm infrastructure financing, farmland purchasing, linking with younger farmers and estate planning, the desirability and feasibility of donating agricultural conservation easements, and entering into Voluntary Agricultural Districts. We will also make an economic assessment of various agricultural enterprises and potential value-added industries.”

“We encourage citizens to send us their ideas and their input on supporting agriculture in our county for this plan,” Carpenter added. Anyone interested in submitting an idea may plan to attend one of the three community meetings or click on the “Send Us Your Ideas” link at
www.catawbacountync.gov/Planning/Sustainability.”