NC Forever Farms Program Announced

by | Jun 14, 2023

Summary: The Farmland Preservation Division of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced new initiatives to celebrate farmland preservation efforts across the state. NC Forever Farms is a program that recognizes family farms that have taken the ultimate step in protecting precious working lands that are vital to the future of agriculture in North Carolina.

Today’s Topic with Southern Farm Network’s Mike Davis

  • Farmland preservation has been one of my top priorities since taking office in 2005. After years of rapid population growth, I think it’s safe to say that the secret about North Carolina is out. It is a fantastic place to live or open a business, and we are rapidly growing. That presents a great opportunity for farmers because we have more bellies to feed. However, that also means that we are losing a lot of farmland.
  • With the rapid development taking place all across the state, we have to work hard and be proactive. We are proud of the steps we’ve taken to secure North Carolina’s agricultural future.
  • The Forever Farms Program recognizes the family farms that have taken the ultimate step in protecting precious working lands that are vital to the future of agriculture in North Carolina.
  • Through permanent conservation easements, these farms will always be protected from development and the threat of conversion.
  • Since the establishment of the Ag Development Farmland Preservation Trust Fund, 32,000 acres of farms and forests have been preserved in 53 of our 100 counties.
  • I owe a special thank-you to the farmers, foresters and landowners that have committed to keeping their land as a natural resource that will benefit generations of future North Carolinians.
  • A special thank-you also goes to county governments, soil and water conservation districts and land trusts that are key local partners in farmland preservation. This program could not get off the ground without local partners to hold conservation easements.
  • This past month, the staff of our Farmland Preservation Division has been hard at work reviewing applications for permanent conservation easements for new NC Forever Farms, and I’m pleased to say they received more applications than ever before.
  • As part of the Forever Farms Program we have established a new award to recognize the exemplary efforts of individuals and groups that advance Farmland Preservation efforts in North Carolina.
  • The North Carolina Friends of Farmland Award is a new recognition that will be given annually to “an individual or group that delivers exemplary service in the preservation of working lands in North Carolina and provides extraordinary efforts to foster the growth, development, and sustainability of North Carolina family farms.”
  • Dewitt Hardee is the recipient of the first-ever North Carolina Friends of Farmland Award. Dewitt led the ADFP Trust Fund from 2006 until his retirement in 2021. He coordinated the preservation of nearly 30,000 acres of farmland and managed a budget of more than $55 million dollars during that time.
  • Along with his staff, Dewitt developed both term and perpetual conservation easements, Voluntary Agricultural Districts, Enhanced Voluntary Agricultural Districts, Farmland Protection Plans and other projects that made a real difference in this state.
  • Dewitt always showed grace and professionalism in tackling some major challenges. There are few people, if any, that have been more instrumental in facilitating the protection of farmland. He is very deserving to be the first recipient of this award.
  • I am very proud of the work of our Forever Farms Program and would encourage landowners interested in preserving their working farm or forest to visit the ADFP website, ( or call 919-707-3071 for more information.