WashCo Supes: PDR Property Assault

UN Agenda 21. Also known as

Sustainable Development…..

Such a sweet melody it plucks on your heartstrings.

This time, it goes to a tune that sounds like this….

We MUST help those poor farmers! They’re all getting OLD! And with all this development going on all over the place—just LOOK at Northern Virginia!!!—if  the government doesn’t step in and tell us what we should do with our farmland, why, by 2050 when we have to grow twice as much food to feed ourselves, we’ll all starve!

Wait-I know!!!

Let’s put some government agency on the deed and then they’ll fix it! They’ll know just what to do!!!

Yep. They’ll fix it allright.

If it hadn’t been for freshman board member, Bill Gibson, a couple of months ago the Washington County Board of Supervisors would have given the thumbs up to spending another $46,000 of our taxpayer dollars on the ultimate bailout for the poor, beleaguered farmer, without having raised the first question. What is the utlimate bailout? It’s the one that puts the government or one of their subsidized agencies—in this case, the Virginia Outdoors Foundation—-on the deed. When the term of the deed is PERPETUITY, is it really that hard to figure out who ends up with the property? If you’ve never heard of the Wildlands Project or the UN Biodiversity Treaty—the plan to make 50% of the US off limits to humans—you better click on the links below and grab your reading glasses.





But those poor farmers—they’re all nipping up on retirement age and if Big

Brother doesn’t DO something, the Evil Developers will swoop in, and there goes

my view shed!

Here’s a question: Where’s the bailout for the beat-down small business owner? Besides food stamps?

Here’s another one: How many bureaucracies does it take to screw your property rights?


  • The monolithic USDA, [USDA’s budget 2010 staffing level=104,751 total staff years]

  • along with their state counterpart,

  • a special department within the state counterpart,

  • plus two county agencies

  • and one state-subsidized land trust outfit, all here to save the day!

The USDA and the VA Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, (VDACS} through their Richmond Office of Farmland Preservation by way of the Washington County Ag Extension Agency (Virginia Cooperative Extension of  VA Tech and VSU) and Holston River Soil and Water Conservation District. Plus the VA Outdoors Federation, to close the deal.

Submitting the program summary below, on  February 14th, Conservation Easement Specialist Meg Short with the HRSWCD appealed to the County for matching funds to promote a Purchase of Development Rights Program that will provide some dough (and maybe some tax breaks) for the cash-strapped farmer. The only catch—a split title that puts the land trust on the deed–VA Outdoors Foundation–in this case, who will  then create a management plan for  the VOF to oversee. Forever. They cut you a check for the difference in the free market value of your land and the assessed value of your land under easement. Meaning that you have sold away your rights (and those of your heirs or any future owner) to ever do anything on the land other than what this snapshot in time portrays. That means no subdividing, or development outside of the current use of the land. Supervisor Bill Gibson, seconded by Wayne Stevens thought they should at least know what they were voting on.

The vote was tabled. Temporarily.

Whether YOU knew it or not,

on your “list of greatest concerns for Washington County in 2008″ was “preservation of farmland, forestland, and open space….expressed in the County Comprehensive Plan.  In 2008, local public and private organizations banded together to promote the formation of a Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) Program, in order to protect farmland and open space in Washington County.”

General Information and Program Summary (page 175)
Updated: January 2012 – Holston River Soil and Water Conservation District

Agricultural and recreational enterprises bring over 60 million dollars per year to Washington
County. Preservation of farmland, forestland, and open space was one of the top citizen
concerns expressed in the County Comprehensive Plan. In 2008, local public and private
organizations banded together to promote the formation of a Purchase of Development Rights
(PDR) Program, in order protection farmland and open space in Washington County. A PDR
program compensates property owners who voluntarily agree to sell the right to develop their
land. The development rights are held in perpetuity in the form of a conservation easement. The
Washington County PDR Program was established in July 2010.

The Washington County PDR program is governed by a 5 member, county appointed committee.
The program is administered by the Holston River Soil and Water Conservation District. All
parcels considered for the PDR program will be ranked according to established criteria to
prioritize and maximize parcel conservation potential.

The Washington County Purchase of Development Rights Program will be funded by a variety
of sources and partners – including local, state, federal, and private organizations. To date,
$30,000.00 has been dedicated from the Washington County FY 2011/2012 budget, and an
additional $16,000.00 has been raised by local entities for the PDR program. State funding,
totaling $46,000.00 from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
(VDACS), has been awarded to match local funding. Additional funding is still being acquired.
Local match is necessary in order to apply for grants from organizations such as VDACS and the
Natural Resource Conservation Service.


A few days later, along with Gibson five concerned citizens meet with Holston Valley Soil and Water Conservation District Conservation Specialists Meg Short and Wayne Turley and County Ag Extension Agent Phil Blevins (also on the WashCo PDR Committee) along VOF Conservation Easement Specialist, Neil Kilgore.

Used to the sweet smell of Agenda 21, we ask some tough questions and got the following answers:

▪ The PDR Program is voluntary ▪ It has no political agenda ▪ It will financially compensate landowners who put easements on their property.

Kilgore’s glowing endorsement was pretty much as he describes in this interview with the Bristol Herald Courier:


It is the epitome of a person’s property rights to exercise their rights on their own property,” Kilgore said. “Somebody has the right to develop a property to its fullest, and they have the right to protect it, because both of them essentially are permanent.”


How Mr. Kilgore equates the ability to “develop a property to its fullest” while entering an agreement to nullify those development rights permanently is puzzling, to say the least.

County Ag Agent Blevins repeatedly bristled at being remotely associated with anything as insidious as Agenda 21, with Ms. Short and Mr. Turley concurring.

At the end of almost 2 hours, our group still wasn’t convinced, despite hearing the repeated argument about the poor, hapless farmers and the onus of feeding the country’s doubled demand for food production by 2050, endangered from the the threat that development poses to farmland. (Hmmm…anybody checked the economy lately? WHAT development?)

Mr. Blevins was asked why— given the claim of impending famine— California’s Central Valley, the area formerly known as “America’s Breadbasket” has been denied water by the state and federal government for the last four years? Five hundred thousand acres taken out of production along with 40,000 jobs, gone. Mr. Blevins response was that it was because of the ‘competing demands for water from all the housing development’.

The San Joaquin Valley was this writer’s own backyard for almost 25 years. Think the economy is bad here? Check the home building industry on the West Coast. The government has turned the water off  because of a purportedly threatened silvery minnow and the Delta smelt population. The irrigation that has for decades supplied the most prolific farmlands in the country is accused of threatening the food supply of the salmon fishery and Orca whale population, along with posing a threat to “climate change”. Don’t take my word for it. Please invest five minutes and visit California Congressman Devin Nunes youtube channel, to address all this and more http://www.youtube.com/user/RepDevinNunes/featured

Note to farmers:

Get used to it!….The endangered list gets bigger all the time, especially when you count flowering plants, conifers and cyads, ferns and allies (apparently, ferns have allies…good to know!)…. and let’s not forget lichens.

We’re the government and we’re here to help.”

At the February 21st BoS meeting, County Ag Agent Blevins inexplicably withdraws the proposal. By March 13th, they’re back on the agenda, this time with the Head Suit in tow, Kevin Schmidt, Coordinator for the VDAC’s Office of Farmland Protection. Mr. Schmidt comes down all the way from Richmond to tell the Board what they want to hear. Namely, each county is free to customize their PDR program to whatever style suits them best. Of course there is the little matter of the Intergovernmental Agreement between VDACS and Washington County, about 8 pages worth.

On the agenda prior to Mr. Schmidt, tea party and property rights activist Catherine Turner

presented the following information….

Presented to the Washington County Board of Supervisors [part of a powerpoint presentation] March 13th Agenda,

excerpted from:

Landowner Considerations in Selling Development Rights or Donating Conservation Easements

Jesse J. Richardson, Jr. and L. Leon Geyer Volume 19 Number 1 January/February 2007 Virginia’s Rural Economic Analysis Program I REAP, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics 0401, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA

perpetual term perpetual easements bindall future owners of the property

considerable uncertainty exists as to the future of the estate tax and, thus,

estate tax benefits from a conservation easement donation.
tax benefits accrue only to the donor and are temporary

can severely reduce the value of the property
subdivision restriction

no guarantee agriculture or forestry will continue
if economic conditions change the future owner may decide not to continue to keep

the land in agriculture or forestry

“We hear accounts of landowners donating or selling development rights

because theyneed the money. Financial need is the worst reason for donating or

selling an easement.

A financial plan should be developed with the assistance of a financial planner to

ensurethat future generations benefit from the donation or sale.


If, on the otherhand, the landowner uses the financial benefits for some

short-term financial objective like operating expenses, he may again find him/

herself needing money.


However, this time the entire farm will likely have to be sold.”



Also presented to the Board for their consideration was information on the primary designer of the PDR program, the American Farmland Trust.

AFT is partnered with the USDA / NRCS, the United States Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources Conservation Service.

In 2001, the VA State Legislature appointed America Farmland Trust to the Task Force that would develop the Model Purchase of Development Rights program for VA. So who are these guys? A powerful environmentalist lobby, heavily involved in promoting Sustainable Development. They were big proponents of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, better known as Cap & Trade, the issue that Coal Country spoke loud and clear on by ousting 28-year incumbent congressman, Rick Boucher, for supporting.

The upshot of all of this? You only thought Cap and Trade didn’t pass. It’s the USDA’s brand new industry. And one that American Farmland Trust is actively engaged in, by way of transforming American farm policy for the 21st century.

How do you suppose they’ll do that? By coming up with some newfangled agricultural products, the kind that aren’t “ruled illegal by the World Trade Organization“. And what would that be?

…a new revenue source for farmers in that they produce environmental products. They produce open space and wildlife habitat, maybe carbon sequestration. There are a number of things that farmers could be producing and those could be, in effect, new revenue streams or new crops for farmers and ranchers across the country, a way to reward them, those that produce high-value environmental services. John Grossi,  former President of American Farmland Trust (2007)

Jon Scholl, American Farmland Trust’s new president in 2008, was former Counselor to the Administrator for

Agricultural Policy at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA).

Supervisor Gibson made a motion to table the vote, for further review. He could not get a second.

Owens and Gibson voted nay.  Joe Straten, Dulcie Mumpower, Phil McCall, Randy Pennington and Wayne Stevens voted in favor of funding the PDR program.

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