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Fayette conservationist addresses farm group

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He tells Shelby landowners how to preserve ag land

By Walt Reichert

Farmer and land preservationist Frank Penn told a local farmland preservation group it needs to make allies with local citizens, business and farm groups to maintain support for farmland preservation.

Penn spoke at a fundraiser for Shelby Area Rural Conservation (SARC), a new organization hoping to establish preservation easements on farmland in Shelby and surrounding areas.

The group recently gained its non-profit status and is working on a donated conservation easement in Oldham County, SARC President Jim Ellis said.

Conservation easements, called Purchase of Development Rights, or PDRs, pay farmers the difference between the agricultural and development value of farmland, allowing farmers to stay on the land. Farmers, in turn, agree not to develop the land. Some landowners donate easements to gain tax advantages.

Penn has been involved for more than a decade in farmland preservation efforts in Fayette County. He said farmers there got together to promote farmland preservation after having problems dealing with dogs and kids from adjacent subdivisions that harassed livestock and tore down fences.

The result of their effort was the Fayette Alliance, a group of farmers, businesses owners, government officials and citizens who seek to preserve the unique open landscape of the inner bluegrass in Fayette County. Fayette County supports the effort through a millage tax.

So far, about 25,000 acres have been preserved in Fayette County with a goal of keeping 50,000 acres in farmland, Penn said.

About 4,000 acres of farmland has been preserved in Shelby County under the now-defunct PACE program. Penn encouraged guests at the fundraiser, held at Undulata Farm, to form a local chapter similar to the Fayette Alliance to increase farmland preservation here.

“You could use a group just like that,” Penn said.

For more information about SARC, call Ellis at 647-2726.