A Balancing Act: Preserving Farmland While Embracing Development



South CarolinaSouth Carolina has experienced the largest population growth in the nation over the last five years. Amidst this recent uptick in population and urban development, the South Carolina legislature has taken a significant step toward preserving its rich agriculture heritage. House Bill 3951, better known as the "Working Agriculture Lands Preservation Act," was sent to Governor McMaster's desk in late February for a final signature of approval. The AEM Advocacy Team will be joining Governor McMaster as he signs this legislation into law in April. 

This act creates a seven-member board, which will be led by the Governor, Agriculture Commissioner, Forestry Commissioner, Secretary of Transportation, and Secretary of Commerce. Once the board is created, it will oversee the "Agriculture Lands Preservation Fund." This fund is comprised of state dollars that will be appropriated to the program each year. Once the board identifies and approves a commercial farmland’s eligibility, the landowner will be provided annual financial aid that will help ensure the permanent preservation of commercial agriculture activity across South Carolina.  

Impact on the Equipment Manufacturing Industry 

While the South Carolina legislature has recently gone to great lengths to open the door to the manufacturing industry through the Agribusiness Infrastructure Incentives Distribution Initiative, the state legislature has also preserved the integral role that robust agriculture plays in the well-being of the equipment manufacturing industry. The balancing act between manufacturing and agriculture preservation will allow our industry to continue to thrive and expand in South Carolina. Equipment manufacturers can expect to reap many benefits from this initiative, including economic growth and stability.  

  1. Economic Growth: By creating an economy that is both pro-manufacturing and pro-agriculture, the state of South Carolina can now foster intrastate relations between the manufacturer and the consumer, allowing for robust economic growth that will ensure that the equipment manufacturing industry will continue to expand.  
  2. Economic Stability: The permanence of funding provided to landowners through this program will ensure farmland availability, which in turn, will support commercial agricultural businesses and equipment manufacturing. This will contribute to the state’s economic stability for generations to come. 

The Working Agricultural Lands Preservation Act represents a collaborative effort to safeguard South Carolina’s agricultural and rural legacy. While surrounding states like Georgia have already passed similar measures in recent years, other states like Tennessee have looked to South Carolina for example and are expected to pass similar measures in the coming months. To learn more about this program, please visit the South Carolina General Assembly Website.  

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Advocacy & Legislation, AEM Updates

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