McBee Farm added to Farmland Protection Program
Bobbie and Mary McBee have placed 94 acres of their farm in eastern Morgan County under farmland protection. The closing on the farmland protection easement took place Wednesday morning, September 1.
“Both Bobbie and Mary wanted to make sure the property would not be developed and decided to go through the easement process to protect their property,” Morgan County Farmland Protection Board Chairman Lin Dunham said.
The farm has been in the McBee family for five generations. The McBee’s started the process to protect the land in 2006.
“It’s been quite awhile since we started,” Bobbie McBee said.
That year three farms were approved for farmland protection, but the county only had funds for two. Then in 2007, one farm dropped out of the program.
“Things started to move from that point on,” McBee said.
The McBee’s had to have an appraisal a survey, an environmental study, a soil conservation plan and an evaluation by the National Resource Conservation Service.
With the dip in the economy, the appraisal had to be updated several times and some of the paperwork was lost over the years and had to be resubmitted.
“I thought it would only take a year, but it took a lot longer,” McBee said.
Dunham explained that federal government procedural changes made this process longer than usual and the McBee’s had to accept less funding than was originally projected by the board.
“Sometimes people think that individuals are more interested in the financial gains from placing a farmland protect easement on their property. But in this case, it is quite evident that both Bobbie and Mary’s main concern was to ensure the property was protected,” Dunham said.
Farmland Protection funding
Funding for farmland protection easements is derived from two main sources; county property transfer taxes and matching federal funds.
Whenever property is transferred in Morgan County, a tax of $2.20 per $1,000 of value is accessed and placed in the farmland protection fund.
The fund is supplemented by the Natural Resource Conservation Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“The last couple of years the downturn in the economy has resulted
in the board receiving a smaller amount of transfer tax. With that in mind the board has not accepted applications for awhile,” Dunham said.
Applications now accepted
But new federal legislation has created the Heritage Fund to help provide additional matching funds for farmland protection easements.
“The Morgan County Farmland Protection Board is now accepting new applications. The process of getting this additional funding is not guaranteed, but our board feels that it is worth the effort,” Dunham said.
The amount of funding each state receives is determined by the interest in the program, based on the number of applications received, he said.
Farmland protection easements may be donated. The Farmland Protection Board is a 501.3c organization and donations are tax deductible.
“Whether you are donating an easement or selling an easement, the eased property is automatically placed under the same tax rate as farmed property,” Dunham said.
Individuals may also make tax deductible contributions to the Morgan County Farmland Protection Board.
To receive an application and Farmland Protection Booklet, contact the board’s Administrative Assistant Ginger Johnson at the Morgan County Commission Office, telephone 304-258-8540.