Gloucester County Awarded $4.5 Million in Funding from State for Farmland Preservation
(Woodbury, NJ)- Gloucester County is the first county in New Jersey to be awarded its maximum funding allotment of $4.5 million for its Farmland Preservation Program from the State Agriculture Development Committee (SADC). The funding was approved last week and it included $1.5 million in base grant funding available to all counties, and additional $3 million in competitive grant funding. Gloucester is the first county in New Jersey to receive this competitive grant funding allocation.
"Gloucester County took a proactive approach to go after all the grant funding we could and as a result of our diligence the county was awarded the maximum amount of both the base and competitive grant funding available," said Freeholder Director Robert M. Damminger. "We are the only county in the state to receive approval for this amount of funding."
Damminger said, "The $4.5 million the county will receive will allow the state to cost-share on eight of the farms that are being preserved this year and provide about 60 percent of the settlement costs for each. That saves the county from using funds from its Open Space fund."
This funding comes from $200 million in state funds that were authorized by the state Legislature and Governor in August. These funds were part of a $400 million bond act approved by New Jerseys voters in 2009 for Open Space and Farmland Preservation efforts; however it is not yet known when the State will act on the remaining $200 million.
In 2011 the Gloucester County Office of Land Preservation has made settlement on 19 properties totaling more than 1,030 acres. The county intends to make settlement on an additional 6 properties by the end of the year, which could add more than 300 acres to the 2011 total. This year Gloucester County reached the milestone of permanently preserving 17,000 acres of farmland and open space, with its current amount of permanently preserved land now at 17,450 acres.
"Without these additional competitive monies the State would have only provided enough for three or four of the farms through our base grant, meaning that the county would have had to use more Open Space Funds to settle these properties," said Freeholder Frank J. DiMarco, liaison to the Office of Land Preservation.
"Preserving land for our farms and open space ends up being win for everyone. Our farmers get to farm, and our taxpayers aren't burdened with more housing developments that put a strain on government resources like schools, roads, and law enforcement," DiMarco stated.