July 6, 2020
Agricultural district programs offer protection, benefits for farmland owners
By Sarah Cato
U of A System Division of Agriculture
- National Agricultural Law Center webinar to examine past, present and future of agricultural district programs
- Webinar is July 15 at noon-1 p.m. EDT
- Register online at https://bit.ly/2BUCIYS
(Download this story in MS Word format here.)
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – For half a century, agricultural district programs, meant to protect farmers from the pressures of expanding urbanization, have evolved and been deployed in various forms around the country. The growing gap between agriculture and those in expanding suburban areas could pose a threat to those protections, however.
Agricultural districts are programs created and implemented by state or local governments. The protections and benefits they offer vary from place to place.
“Agricultural district programs are perhaps the oldest tool for protecting farmland against development pressures,” Brook Duer, staff attorney for the Penn State Center for Agricultural and Shale Law, said. “These programs offer a package of unique benefits geared to promote the continuation of agricultural use of that property by minimizing threats and maximizing benefits to do so.”
These programs, implemented in 16 states, work to protect agricultural resources by offering farmland owners protection from public or private nuisance claims, preferential property tax provisions and other benefits.
Since agricultural districts were enacted in the 1970s, many of those areas have shifted from rural to suburban. Duer said that shift could hold negative implications for these programs.
“In the face of suburban development, there are some areas where ag districts may not be fully understood,” he said. “They may not even be supported by the local electorate at this point.”
The past, present and uncertain future of agricultural districts will be the topic of a July 15 webinar, hosted by the National Agricultural Law Center. In this webinar, Duer will discuss the various forms of agricultural district programs, outline the states which have enacted such laws and how they’ve changed, compare the various concepts employed, and consider the future of these programs as the agricultural sector enters the 2020s.
Online registration for the webinar is at https://bit.ly/2BUCIYS. There is no cost to participate.
About the National Agricultural Law Center
The National Agricultural Law Center serves as the nation’s leading source of agricultural and food law research and information. The Center works with producers, state and federal policymakers, Congressional staffers, attorneys, land grant universities, and many others to provide objective, nonpartisan agricultural and food law research and information to the nation’s agricultural community.
The Center is a unit of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and works in close partnership with the USDA Agricultural Research Service, National Agricultural Library.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact 479-575-4607 as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.
# # #
National Agricultural Law Center
University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture