Panelists (L to R)

Ann Mallek


Stephen Levine

(background), &

Carl Tinder


On June 18, 2009,

Advocates for a Sustainable Albemarle Population

(ASAP) held a panel discussion entitled: “The Future of Albemarle Farmland.” Carl Tinder, President of the Albemarle County

Farm Bureau

, and Stephen Levine, an ASAP Board member, discussed their respective organization’s efforts to insure a healthy rural environment and the preservation of local farms. Albemarle County Supervisor Ann Mallek, served as moderator. An audience of about thirty people gathered at the Westminster Presbyterian Church to listen to the panelists answer questions they received in advance and to those from the audience.

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01:14 – Introduction by David Shreve

Moderated by Ann Mallek

10:49 – Question 1 – Much of the land in Albemarle County now in housing developments was farmland in past years. What is to stop this pattern from continuing in the future?

14:29 – Question 2 – Is the non-farming community justified in encouraging local government to enact regulations that will reduce the probability that developers and speculators will buy farmland and turn it into residential developments?

18:44 – Question 3 – Advocates for a Sustainable Albemarle Population (ASAP), because of the use of the word “population” in its name, has sometimes been identified as a “one trick pony.” That is, some mistakenly assume that population is its only concern, rather than an essential component in issues such as environmental degradation, traffic congestion, sprawl, resource depletion, strained infrastructure, and threat to our quality of life. What in your view is the connection between population size and these issues?

21:51 – Question 4 – What could be done to develop more common ground between ASAP and local Farm Bureau members? Are they aware of the existence of ASAP and why it is trying to stabilize local population at a sustainable level?

24:04 – Question 5 – Conservation easements are one tool for protecting rural land from excessive development. Other such tools include zoning, subdivision limits, growth boundaries, and the protection of prime agricultural land, forests, and wildlife habitat. Given that U.S. and Virginia courts have consistently decided that these tools violate no property rights, how does this indicate that we (everyone involved) could begin to use these tools in a more robust and effective manner?

28:44 – Question 6 – Does your organization support TDRs? Why or why not?

32:34 – Question 7 – Since much of the appreciated value of rural land is related directly to ongoing public investments in the nearby urban and suburban region, does this not make land use in these affected rural areas a necessary focus of public policy?

43:19 – Question 8 – In the past five decades, traditional methods of farming have increasingly given way to large scale, industrial farming, resulting in significant soil erosion, lowering of aquifers, widespread pollution of soil, air, and water (with pesticides, fertilizer, and hormones), and the excessive use of antibiotics demanded by the crowded, unnatural, and stressful conditions that characterize factory farming–agricultural practices that surely threaten the very sustainability of agriculture itself, as well as the health of the American people. What can your organization do to address these problems and to promote more sustainable and environmentally healthy methods of food production?

49:30 – Question 9 – Critics of the USDA claim that its policies are designed to favor large industrial farming operations at the expense of traditional family farms, making it very difficult for such farms to support their   families and discouraging people who would like to become farmers from pursuing such a career. What can be done to make family farming as it existed up to the 1950s a more viable option than it presently is and ensure that farming remains, or becomes anew, a viable career in this county?

53:14 – Question 10 – There is a move about to provide a permanent home for Charlottesville’s farmers’ market that could function year-round, as well as other initiatives for moving agricultural products more directly from farmer to consumer. How important do you think it is to local farmers to provide these new avenues for selling agricultural products? The ACE program attempts to compensate farmers for voluntarily giving up development rights — rights they say they will not use in any case.  Why don’t more farmers take advantage of the ACE program?

Audience Questions:

1:01:25 – Question on not supporting county funding of food hubs

1:03:49 – Question on how the Farm Bureau can help the small farmer

1:05:29 – Question on how industrial farms are defined

1:09:18 – Question on farms near the Gulf of Mexico

1:11:04 – Comments on rural area development and a consumer-driven market

1:17:09 – Comment on real estate revenue for farms

1:20:00 – Question on property taxes are on value of farm

1:24:54 – Question on which state has a better tax system

1:26:19 – Comment on the term industrial farm and the future of local farming

1:31:37 – Question on next generation of farmers

1:35:59 – Comment on farming lifestyle

1:40:04 – Question on large corporations affecting local farmers

1:44:24 – Discussion on property tax in California

1:52:26 – Mallek concludes


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