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Farmland Preservation Overview: Protect Your Farm or Forest

Buncombe County recognizes the importance of agriculture and the numerous benefits it provides to our residents. The Buncombe Soil and Water Conservation District offers three different options to protect our farms and forests from development. These include Voluntary Ag Districts (VAD), Enhanced Voluntary Ag Districts (EVAD), and permanent conservation easements.

1) Voluntary Agricultural District (VAD)

Through the Voluntary Agricultural District (VAD) program, landowners agree to preserve their property by prohibiting non-farm use and/or development for a period of 10 years. The agreement can be revoked by the landowner at any time by providing a 30-day prior notice.

VAD Eligibility:

  • Land must be part of the Present-use Value (PUV) tax program or be listed under agricultural use
  • Land must be managed according to USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service guidelines with respect to highly erodible land

VAD Benefits:

  • Increased protection from nuisance suits
  • Water and sewer assessments may be waiver/suspended
  • Signage to publicize land’s enrollment in program

2) Enhanced Voluntary Agricultural District (EVAD)

Similar to the VAD program, landowners in the EVAD program agree to prohibit non-farm use or development for a period of 10 years. However, unlike in the VAD program, this agreement cannot be revoked until the 10-year term is complete.

EVAD Eligibility:

  • EVAD has the same eligibility requirements as VAD.

EVAD Benefits:

  • Landowners are eligible to receive higher percentage of cost share under Ag-cost share program (as high as 90 percent)
  • Utility assessments may be suspended or waived if land is in EVAD.

3) Permanent Conservation Easements

An agricultural conservation easement is a legal agreement between a landowner and a conservation organization where the landowner agrees to keep their land for farm and forestry use by restricting non-farm development on the property in perpetuity. The conservation organization monitors the property annually to ensure that the terms of the easement are met into perpetuity. This is a permanent, binding agreement that runs with the property deed and is recorded at the register of deeds.

Agricultural Conservation Easements:

  • Are designed to keep land available for farm and forest use
  • Are crafted in order to meet the landowner’s objectives and needs
  • May permit new agricultural buildings for the farm operation

After protecting the farm, landowners:

  • Retain ownership of the property
  • Can stay in the present-use value tax program
  • Can still farm, hunt and restrict public access on the farm
  • May use land as collateral for a loan
  • Lease and/or sell the property

To learn more contact:

Buncombe Farmland Preservation Program
Ariel Zijp, 828-250-4794,
Avni Naik, 828-250-4792,

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Article Information

Updated Dec 07, 2022 12:46 PM
Published Aug 09, 2022 07:44 AM