Saving Farms

By: Amy Gleason
By: Amy Gleason

Agriculture has changed in Rockingham County.

"I was a hog farmer," said Chuck Ahrend. "You'll find very few hogs left in the area."

Cattle farming has held steady and poultry is booming.

"We have a lot of poultry. I don't know what that's going to do in the future," added Ahrend.

These changes and many more have led to the formation of the Rockingham county agriculture task force.

"Agriculture is a way of life and one of the problems we have in agriculture is it's a tough way to make a living," said Ahrend, a member of the new task force.

That's why many family farms end up looking like housing developments and golf courses. Developments are a big concern. Many Maryland counties and the Virginia beach area governments have decided to buy farm land and make it agriculture-only forever. But it comes with a big price tag.

"Is the taxpayer willing to do this? Is saving agriculture that much of an issue?"

Judging the number of farms, Ahrend and the task force believe it's at least worth investigating.

"Many times it's been said that if you equal the agriculture income of Rockingham County, it takes five other counties to equal our agricultural income," said Ahrend.

For Ahrend, he hopes it will remain that way for many years to come.

Other big topics you can expect the task force to tackle include using forest land for farming and zoning issues.

It will be meeting over the next six to eight months.

The task force is made up of a cross section of the farming community including the poultry and dairy industries, as well as the extension offices.


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