Legislation to help preserve farmland across the state was signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie. The bill, which was sponsored by State Senator Jeff Van Drew, appropriates a combined $39 million to 16 counties for the acquisition of development easements on farmland. The 16 counties will each receive a base grant of $1.5 million. They will also be eligible to compete to receive an additional grant of up to $3 million from a competitive grant fund of $15 million, for a maximum grant award of $4.5 million.
“Ensuring that we maintain a strong agricultural industry is critical to our state’s economy,” said Senator Van Drew (D-Cape May/Cumberland/Atlantic). “The funding made available through this legislation will provide local officials with the means to move forward with their efforts to preserve farmland, which ultimately will help to preserve the state’s rich tradition of farming and the jobs that are supported by this very important industry.”
The three additional bills (S-2894, S-2895, and S-2897) will provide another $55 million for farmland preservation, planning and administration of the preservation program. Combined, the four bill package will provide more than $90 million to farmland preservation. This funding is part of the first round of farmland preservation monies to be allocated from the $400 million bond issue approved by voters in 2009.