Local News

Farmland Threatened By Wake Development

Posted July 21, 2007 8:40 a.m. EDT

— Farmers are paying a heavy price for development in Wake County, which consumes more than an acre each hour, according to the Wake County Farm Bureau.

The pace and extent of growth in Wake  makes it difficult for farmers to find open crop land, said Jackie Thompson, president of the Wake County Farm Bureau.

Around 27 acres of open land are developed daily as an average of 98 new people move into the county each day.

"Oh, it's sad, very sad," said Thompson.

Increasingly, owners selling their land to developers, sometimes for millions, instead of renting to farmers, said Thompson, a lifelong farmer who is among those growers who rent their land.

"When the developers dangle that really lucrative carrot in their eyes, it's very difficult for those people to turn that down," said Thompson.

The Wake County Board of Commissioners is taking steps to balance growth and preservation of open space and farmland, said Commissioner Joe Bryan.

"I think there is clearly a major concern," said Bryan. "We desperately need to protect as much and make sure we have that balance to go along with the good quality growth."

Property owners get a tax break for land designated as farmland.

Wake County ranks among the top 15 tobacco-producing counties in the state, but Thompson said he worries that significant amount of agriculture will come close to disappearing.

"Ten years down the road, there is probably going to be very little agriculture in Wake County," said Thompson.