Mt. Clemens, MI - Macomb County leaders joined with Richmond Township officials Friday, January 6, 2023 for a signing ceremony that will create a 119-acre conservation easement on local farmland.
The land, currently owned and farmed by Vern and Theresa Kulman, will now be permanently designated for agricultural use or green space.
“This means a lot to me,” said Vern Kulman. “I think our area has some of the best farmland in the state, so I’m proud that this program will preserve it for future generations.”
Kulman’s family started dairy farming in Richmond Township in 1948. Today their focus is beef cattle operations. “It’s a way of life,” he said. His farm’s conservation easement is made possible through a Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) agreement coordinated by the Macomb County Agricultural Purchase of Development Rights Committee and funded through a Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Agricultural Preservation Grant. The process gives a landowner the option to permanently preserve his or her farmland while also receiving fair market value for development rights. An easement is then placed on the property designating it for agricultural use in perpetuity.
“Protecting our agricultural assets is a priority for Macomb County," said Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel. "With more than 400 working farms and ever-expanding home grown products, Macomb County growers are providing locally sourced fresh food to so many. Protecting farmland will strengthen our natural environment, protect thousands of jobs and ensure that agriculture always has a home in Macomb."
Macomb County’s Agricultural Purchase of Development Rights Committee has helped preserve hundreds of acres of farmland through the PDR agreement process. In doing so, the committee is achieving what it set out to do when it was formed.
“Agriculture has always been an important part of Macomb County’s diverse economic landscape,” said Macomb County Board of Commissioners Chair Don Brown. “In the mid-90’s, conversations were started to preserve prime agricultural land in our fast growing County. Those discussions grew into a multi-jurisdictional Agricultural Preservation Program. Twenty years later, the seeds planted back then continue to bear fruit by protecting another piece of farmland for future generations in northern Macomb County. As a founding member of the Macomb County Purchase of Development Rights Program, I am proud to see the Kulman property added to the others before it, ensuring Macomb County's proud agricultural heritage will continue.”
Outside of preserving heritage and protecting the County’s agricultural industry, the PDR program is helping farmers by directly giving them the funds they would receive if they sold their land to a developer.
“We’ll use our funds to further the operation with either equipment or more cattle,” said Kulman. “A lot of it goes to retirement too. And when I do completely retire, I can pass the land on to my family while still getting some equity out of it. This PDR program makes that possible.”
Macomb County farmers interested in the PDR program can contact a clerk's office in any of the participating communities for information and program applications. Participating communities include Bruce Township, Armada Township, Richmond Township, Washington Township, Ray Township and Lenox Township.
“I think it’s another tool in the toolbox for farmers,” Kulman added. “It may not be for everyone, but it’s an option. And something that preserves our area, because farming and farmland is important.”
About Macomb County Planning and Economic Development
The Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development supports an environment where businesses prosper and people thrive. Its activities and programs are focused on stimulating the local economy through business retention, expansion and attraction while improving the overall quality of life for residents. The department specializes in providing services to businesses at all stages of development with a concentration on the high-growth industries of aerospace, alternative energy, advanced manufacturing, defense and homeland security. For more information, call 586-469-5285 or visit: https://ped.macombgov.org/Ped-Home.