A 119-acre parcel in Richmond Township has been designated as a “conservation easement” that designates it for agricultural use or green space, according to Macomb County officials.
Leaders from the county and the township gathered with the property owners, Vern and Theresa Kulman, on Friday for a signing ceremony to create the permanent designation.
“This means a lot to me,” Vern Kulman said in a county news release. “I think our area has some of the best farmland in the state, so I’m proud that this program will preserve it for future generations.”
The easement is made possible through a Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) agreement coordinated by the county Agricultural Purchase of Development Rights Committee and funded through a Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Agricultural Preservation Grant, officials said. The process gives a landowner the option to permanently preserve his or her farmland while also receiving fair market value for development rights. An easement is then placed on the property designating it for agricultural use in perpetuity, officials said.
“Protecting our agricultural assets is a priority for Macomb County,” County Executive Mark Hackel said in the release. “With more than 400 working farms and ever-expanding home-grown products, Macomb County growers are providing locally sourced fresh food to so many. Protecting farmland will strengthen our natural environment, protect thousands of jobs and ensure that agriculture always has a home in Macomb.”
Officials said the county Agricultural Purchase of Development Rights Committee has helped preserve hundreds of acres of farmland through the PDR agreement process. County Board of Commissioners Chair Don Brown of Washington Township was a founding member of the committee about 20 years ago following discussions that began in the mid-1990s.
“I am proud to see the Kulman property added to the others before it, ensuring Macomb County’s proud agricultural heritage will continue,” Brown said in the release. “Agriculture has always been an important part of Macomb County’s diverse economic landscape. The seeds planted back then continue to bear fruit by protecting another piece of farmland for future generations in northern Macomb County.”
In addition to preserving heritage and protecting the local agricultural industry, the program helps farmers by directly giving them the funds they would receive if they sold their land to a developer.
“We’ll use our funds to further the operation with either equipment or more cattle,” Kulman said. “A lot of it goes to retirement, too. And when I do completely retire, I can pass the land on to my family while still getting some equity out of it. This PDR program makes that possible.
“I think it’s another tool in the toolbox for farmers. It may not be for everyone, but it’s an option. And something that preserves our area, because farming and farmland is important.”
Kulman’s family started dairy farming at the location in 1948. Today their focus is beef cattle operations.
“It’s a way of life,” he said.
Macomb County farmers interested in the PDR program can contact a clerk’s office in any of the participating communities for information and program applications. Those include Bruce, Armada, Richmond, Washington, Ray, and Lenox townships.