Although it wasn't his main point, I particularly reacted to Greg's point
about farmers cashing in on their land after they had made their lifelong
contribution of food and fiber to their fellow citizens. The main option
now for the retiring farmer is often selling to a developer to put houses
on prime farmland. Farmers must be allowed to profit from their land,
yet is there a more sustainable, and practical, way than turning farmland
into new houses?
Certainly farmers ought to profit from the sale of their farmland, just
as others do from other types of land. Yet, the main present option of
turning farmland into new houses doesn't seem sustainable. How long can
we continue the present US trend to add three million new appetites every
year and lose one million acres of our best farmland every year? Money
for Purchase of Development Rights is one solution. But at the present,
there is far from enough money to buy up the development rights of all the
prime farmland at risk.
Can others of you see any other options?
Do you think that as taxpayers realize that new houses on farmland cost
them money and add to the taxes they pay for new infrastructure,
especially schools, that they will follow the lead of communities like
Pittsford, NY, and others who voted to tax themselves to buy adjacent
farmland and keep it in farming because it will cost them less in the end
in the amount of taxes they pay?
I hope that some of you have some new thoughts on this subject. I wonder
if you will agree that whether or not we continue to have a rural America
is riding on your answers.
Marian Buckner, West Virginia
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