Farmland Preservation Program

New Cost of Community Services Study

The Wake County Cost of Community Services Study, published in March of 2024 by the University of Mount Olive, serves as a valuable tool to plan for growth and to define a balance between agricultural lands and development.

Cost of Community Services Study
Farmland Preservation

Wake County is losing farmland every year, and that’s why the Soil & Water Conservation District, with the full support of the Wake County Board of Commissioners, created the Farmland Preservation Program. As one of the fastest-growing counties in the U.S., protecting family farms and forestland is a priority for Wake County.

In the last nine years, Wake County lost 22,964 acres of its farm and forest land – that's almost 20%. If the county continues at its current growth rate, all unprotected land will be developed in the next 25 to 50 years. A new Farmland Preservation Program aims to conserve Wake County’s nearly 700 farms and help combat North Carolina’s disappointing ranking as the second-highest state in the nation for farmland loss.

The goals of the program are:

  • Promote agricultural values and the general welfare of Wake County
  • Promote agriculture as an integral part of the county’s economy
  • Increase identity and pride in the agricultural community and its way of life
  • Encourage the economic and financial health of agriculture, horticulture and forestry
  • Decrease the likelihood of legal disputes, such as nuisance actions between farm owners and their neighbors, and other negative impacts on properly managed farms
  • Place permanent protections on agricultural land to preserve precious resources for future generations.

The new Farmland Preservation Program Ordinance was approved on June 21, 2022. The new Farmland Preservation Program Ordinance repealed and replaced the “WAKE COUNTY VOLUNTARY AGRICULTURAL DISTRICT ORDINANCE,” which was adopted in 2002 and updated in 2016. There are now three programs under the new Farmland Preservation Ordinance to protect agricultural land from encroaching development:

  1. Voluntary Agricultural District Program – 11,598 acres enrolled
  2. Enhanced Voluntary Agricultural District Program – 87 acres enrolled
  3. Agricultural Conservation Easement Program

The Wake Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors administers Farmland Preservation Program in Wake County. The District Board established an Agricultural Advisory Board to help the Wake Soil & Water Conservation District Board advise the County Commissioners about issues affecting the local farm community. The Agricultural Advisory Board also reviews and approves applications that are submitted for the program. If the application is denied by the Advisory Board, the applicant has 30 days to appeal the decision to the Board of Commissioners.