We read with interest the recent guest editorial by John Ellis representing his advocacy organization Save Rural Loudoun. Just the day before Mr. Ellis’s perspective was published, we heard a very different perspective on the same issue from a group of farmers and landowners who also have a vested interest in preserving farm land in Loudoun County because it represents not only their livelihood, but also their legacy.

Interestingly, we have heard Mr. Ellis’s very public position on several occasions. In contrast, we are only now hearing the position of the farmers and landowners because there has been very little awareness among these key stakeholders of the recent initiative from the Board of Supervisors to pass a zoning amendment to “improve rural cluster development and prime agricultural soil.”

This makes us wonder how many landowners and taxpayers in Loudoun County are aware of this proposed amendment or even know what it means?

“Preserve prime agricultural soil,” “save rural land” and “save Loudoun’s farms” have become rallying cries for multiple advocacy organizations in western Loudoun. On face value, these all seem to be noble and worthwhile causes that most citizens could get behind. Who doesn’t want to save the farms and their soil that produce the food that we all need, especially in uncertain times like a pandemic when simply going to a grocery store is no longer so simple?

As we all know, there are usually at least two sides to every issue. The intent of any particular advocacy group or any initiative spurred by the Board of Supervisors may not be entirely clear until some time is spent “peeling back the layers of the onion” to identify the true motivations and the parties that stand to benefit or will be adversely affected.

The point is that a great deal of research, thought and planning should go into any changes that have significant consequences, either intentional or unintentional. The stakeholders that will be impacted need to be a part of the conversation before such changes are made. I am concerned that the Board of Supervisors has not provided adequate information, has not obtained sufficient input from the public or the right stakeholders, and has not done enough research to be in a position to make a fully informed decision that has the potential to impact the future of agriculture in Loudoun.

As concerned citizens, taxpayers and landowners, we encourage supervisors to invest the time needed to investigate all the angles, pros and cons in order to make a wise decision based on vetted facts and one that is fully transparent to and representative of all. We hope our open letter to the board will call attention to this important issue.

Lori Wyant Rockwell

Susan L. Wyant

Lovettsville

(3) comments

Charles Houston

Protecting prime agricultural land has been a goal for almost 20 years. Instead of buying into the spiel of a realtor/land speculator, listen to the 300+ REAL farmers from the Farm Bureau, all of whom want this protection...of land, not wallets.

Concerned

I would like to see the list of "300+ real farmers," know how much land they have, what are they producing, and what kind of tax breaks they may or may not be receiving.

Loudoun Farmer

Just on the facts, in order to be a producer member of Loudoun Farm Bureau as opposed to an associate member you need to be earning income from your agricultural operation. We have 300+ producer members and another 600+/- associate (non voting) members. Our board members include farmers with hundreds of acres of land in row crop production and those with 3 acres of intensive direct market vegetable production. We've also got direct market and commercial herd cattle producers, lamb producers, a grape grower, an equine boarding operation owner, large scale fruit and vegetable CSA, and custom hay and grains. Most are enrolled in the county's land use tax deferral program, but some have custom operations on leased land so are not eligible for land use tax deferral.

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