Three Options for Agricultural Preservation

The Boone County Farmland Protection Project-
This is a 501(C)3 group.  Although a lot of its efforts overlap with county committees, it is not attached to the county board.  Its mission statement reads:  To accept, hold, administer, invest, and disburse such assets and funds primarily for the preservation of farmland of Boone County, Illinois, as may from time to time be contributed to the Corporation by any person, trust, firm or corporation, and to use same to receive, purchase or defend right to development (development easements) to Boone County farmland.  In conclusion the Corporation holds, as its mission, the preservation of farmland designated as within A-1 Agricultural District, or within FP/C (Flood Plain/Conservation) District as defined and located in Boone County, Illinois, Zoning Ordinance.
 
They meet the second Thursday of every month at 7pm in the basement of the Soil and Water Conservation District.  They are the entity responsible for the farmland preservation signs found throughout the county.
 
The Boone County Agricultural Conservation Easement and Farmland Protection Commission-
This is a commission of the county board.  It is comprised of 7 members- A representative of the County Board, a resident at large (appointed by the County Board Chairman), a representative of the Farm Bureau, a representative of the Boone County Conservation District, a representative of the Boone County Soil and Water Conservation District, a representative of the Boone County Regional Planning Commission and a representative of the Pamona Grange.  Representatives serve three year terms unless they are no longer associated with the organization they represent, and then someone else gets appointed
 
The commission meets the fourth Friday of the month at 7:30am in the County Board Room and there is currently 523.4 acres permanently protected by conservation easements. 
 
The commission’s purpose is:
A.            Duties. The Commission shall be responsible for general supervision of the Agricultural Conservation Easement and Farmland Protection Program as set forth in this Ordinance, including the following:
 
I.           The Commission shall maintain contact with public and private agencies to maximize the resources and coordinate efforts to preserve the rural character of Boone County.
II.                  The Commission shall determine the interest of owners of land within Boone County at least annually, to donate or sell interests in real property for the purpose of the Agricultural Conservation Easement and Farmland Protection Program.
III.                The Commission shall recommend selection criteria and may recommend the acquisition of interests in specific parcels of real property to be acquired by the County of Boone for agricultural protection purposes.
IV.               The Commission may recommend changes to the Boone County Agricultural Conservation Easement and Farmland Protection Program and suggest as to how the program may be integrated with the Boone County Comprehensive Plan, the Boone County Conservation District Master Plan, the Boone County Greenways Plan and other local and regional land use plans.
V.                 The Commission may conduct public meetings or public hearings as it determines necessary.
VI.               The Commission may prepare any application forms necessary for the Agricultural Conservation Easement and Farmland Protection Program and prepare, review and recommend any grant application for State and Federal grants.
 
The state statute allowing Boone County to create such a commission can be found at: http://ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=2163&ChapterID=62
 
 
The Boone County Agricultural Areas Committee (Ag Area)-
This Committee is appointed by the Boone County Board Chairman and is comprised of 5 members (four active farmers, no more than two of whom shall be of the same major political party and a member of the county board).  The Ag Areas is a state program in which people voluntarily place temporary conservation easements on their property in order to show that they want smart growth in the county.  Boone County has two agricultural areas, the 1992 Ag Area and the 1995 Ag Area.  The ag areas are reviewed after the initial 10 years and then every 8 years after that.  The Committee only convenes for the 8 year review unless someone wants to remove or add land to the areas outside of the 8 year review meeting.  This rarely happens so the committee does not convene that often.  Right now there are approximately 7,100 acres enrolled in the agricultural area program.   Boone County has one of the largest programs in the state.
 
The state statute for the ag areas can be found at:  http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=1672&ChapterID=40
 
A summary of the program can be found at: http://urbanext.illinois.edu/lcr/preservationact.cfm