Kane County is the home of some of the world’s most fertile farmland, and a new video series is showcasing reasons to continue funding programs that protect that farmland.
To date, the Kane County Farmland Protection Program has preserved more than 5,600 acres of farmland on 32 farms for future generations. Through the program, farmers sell their development rights to the county, which preserves the land as open space — a win-win-win for farmers, local government and citizens.
“This is a completely voluntary program,” said Farmland Protection Manager Janice Hill. “Families approach the county and say they want to keep their land in farming in perpetuity. They sell their development rights to the county, and the land stays protected.”
As Kane County’s Farmland Protection Program enters its 16th year, some of the traditional sources of funding — including the Grand Victoria Riverboat Fund — have been shrinking over the years, so the Kane County Agriculture Committee is considering options to expand its funding toolbox in an effort to ensure the future of Kane County’s food and farm programs.
Todd Gray, manager of the Gray-Urban Farm in Hampshire, says in the compelling YouTube video that the farmland protection program has been invaluable.
“I want it to stay farmland; I don’t want to ever lose that,” he says in the video. “And I know if (the land) gets into the Farmland Protection Program, it’s there, and it’s not going to change.”
Lee Strom of the Strom Family Farm in Elgin said the need for quality farmland is rooted in Kane County’s past, present and future, and the county’s Farmland Protection Program is needed as a hedge against urban sprawl and worldwide population growth.
“It helps the agricultural area, it produces open space still owned and operated by the farmer, and it preserves our agricultural heritage,” he said.
Kane County Development and Community Services staff unveiled the new promotional video at the May 18 meeting of the Kane Agriculture Committee. The video will be the first of a series highlighting the value of the Kane County’s agriculture lands and economy.
Efforts are under way to expand funding and support for the work. To date, Kane County and the U.S. Department of Agriculture / Natural Resources Conservation Service have invested more than $33 million to permanently protect some of the county’s finest soils through the county’s signature and award-winning Farmland Protection Program.
In 2013, the Kane County Board expanded the efforts to include Growing for Kane, the county’s effort to support more local fruit, vegetable, dairy and meat production. More local foods support local farms, Kane farmers, the farm economy and the health of Kane County residents.
The public is encouraged to attend upcoming 2017 meetings of the Kane County Agriculture Committee. The committee meets at 10 a.m. in the Kane County Boardroom, Building A of the Kane County Government Center. Meetings are scheduled for June 22, July 20, Aug. 17, Sept. 21, Oct. 19, Nov. 27 and Dec. 21.
To learn more about agriculture’s contribution to the health and wealth of Kane County, please feel free to attend or call Janice Hill at 630-232-3483.
SOURCE: Kane County Farmland Protection