The SADC recently heard a staff presentation about the development of a draft rule to define and limit soil disturbance on preserved farmland. This draft rule is the result of several years of work by a soil-disturbance sub-committee. The SADC staff believes a rule is necessary to give guidance to preserved farmland owners and clarify two clauses of the deed of easement: one which allows for the development of agricultural buildings, and another which aims to protect the soils on a preserved farm. This issue of soil disturbance on preserved lands surfaced a few years ago with a Hunterdon County greenhouse grower who started large-scale grading/cut and fill work in preparation for temporary hoop houses on a preserved farm.
Farm Bureau believes any rule will have a significant impact on preserved farmland in terms of development of agricultural buildings, including greenhouses and large equine facilities. The SADC will make the draft rule available for public review ahead of any an informal comment period. In January, the SADC will consider whether or not to approve a draft rule for further review. The draft presented to the SADC is available on the SADC website at https://www.nj.gov/agriculture/sadc/news/hottopics/index.html
NJFB policy opposes the adoption of a rule to address soil disturbance on preserved farmland, seeing it as an over step in interpreting the deed of easement that could threaten the future agricultural viability of a changing industry.