I love visiting farms, and I take every opportunity I can to get out of the office and meet with farmers. Last week, I spent a rainy afternoon with Lin Andrew at his Chestnut Hill Farm in Chatham County. Lin raises grassfed beef cattle on 170 acres. He also has laying chickens. At 39 or 40, he’s what I’d call a young farmer, well under the state’s average farming age of 57.
Even though he’s not close to retiring, he’s already thinking about the future of his farm. He’s in the process of putting a conservation easement on his land so that it will never be developed. The Triangle Land Conservancy received a $664,300 grant from the N.C. Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund to help purchase the easement.
I went out to the farm to meet with Lin and his family. House Speaker Joe Hackney and Sen. Bob Atwater, who chairs the Senate agriculture committee, joined me on the tour. Speaker Hackney has a farm not far from Lin’s, and Sen. Atwater represents Chatham County. I wanted them to see an example of the projects the trust fund is supporting around the state. After all, appropriations from the legislature enable the trust fund to assist nonprofit groups and county governments with many types of projects to protect working farms. Last year, the trust fund supported 41 projects with grants totaling $7.6 million, protecting more than 3,000 acres of N.C. farmland.
Lin’s a proactive, forward-thinking guy, and he’s a great example of the younger farmers who are so important to the future of agriculture in North Carolina. I’ve said many, many times that we’ve got to encourage young people to take up farming. Without them, we will gradually lose our ability to produce the many wonderful commodities our state depends on for food, fiber and shelter.
I’d like to thank Lin for inviting me to his farm, and for everything he’s doing to preserve farmland. I’d also like to thank Kevin Brice of Triangle Land Conservancy, Speaker Hackney and Sen. Atwater for their support of North Carolina agriculture.