Over 40 people braved treacherous roads Nov. 17 to visit the Southwest Michigan Regional Extension Center in Benton Harbor, host location of the Berrien County Farmland Preservation Workshop. Another eight attended virtually.
Among the roster of presenters was Berrien County Farm Bureau President Ed Kretchman, who also happens to chair the county’s Farmland & Open Space Preservation Committee. Kretchman spoke with attendees about purchase of development rights (PDR) from a landowner's perspective.
Other presenters included:
- Jarrod Thelen from the Michigan Department Agriculture and Rural Development, who spoke about the state’s farmland preservation program, well known as PA-116.
- Elizabeth Brost, also from MDARD, spoke about the state’s PDR program.
- Katie Montoya, from Berrien County Community Development, spoke to Berrien County’s own PDR program.
- Ryan Postema, executive director of Chikaming Open Lands, spoke on working with a land conservancy.
Each presenter shared about their own land preservation program involvement, boosting attendees’ familiarity with application processes, scoring methods and the differences between state and federal programs, especially with regards to property eligibility and benefits to landowners.
Kretchman has been involved in Berrien County farmland preservation for 20 years, this year selling his own development rights to the state.
“This has been a long time coming for me to be able to preserve a portion of my farmland,” he said. “My goal over the next several years is to place as much of my remaining farmland in the program as I can.
“I feel great satisfaction in knowing that my farm will remain in production agriculture in the future. The legacy my ancestors gave to me will continue on in the generations to come.”
Berrien County Farm Bureau’s sponsorship of the event included lunch for attendees. Other sponsors included the Berrien County Conservation District, Chikaming Open Lands, MDARD and Michigan State University Extension.
For a link to a recording of the workshop, contact Jennie Koebel, county administrative coordinator for the Berrien County Farm Bureau.