The PAR Fund Program Should be Fully Funded

The Purchase and Retirement Fund is a key component of Calvert County’s overall land preservation and growth control strategy and should be fully funded. It allows prime farm and forestland owners to permanently protect their own lands while protecting Calvert’s rural character. We all win.

A farmers’ equity is tied up in the farm, much like another business person’s money is tied up in store and inventory. With the Purchase and Retirement fund, a farmer keeps the land but sells the right to develop it.  Proceeds from the sale may be used for retirement, making improvements to an existing farming operation or starting a new farm or forest related enterprise.

Furthermore, the funds used for the Purchase and Retirement Fund do not come from county property taxes or from county income taxes.  Instead, they come from state transfer tax income, from the tobacco settlement agreement between the tobacco companies and the states, and from a county recordation tax increase in 1999 that was specifically intended for this very purpose.

And that transaction benefits all of us.  It leaves our rural landscapes intact. It allows for rural economies which create food, fiber, and jobs. It leaves forests, meadows and marshes for wildlife. It provides stream buffers and lowers impervious surfaces thus helping to protect waterways like the Chesapeake Bay, Patuxent River and local creeks, which 87% of county residents say that they support, according to a recent opinion poll released by Smart Growth Maryland. The same poll reported that 79% of Calvert County voters support protecting most agricultural land from development and 65% say that we should discourage residential development.

During the Sustainable Calvert Network campaign forum, four incoming Commissioners supported the goal of preserving 40,000 acres of prime farm and forestlands (one did not attend the forum). We look forward to working with and supporting land preservation efforts with the new Board.

Greg Bowen

Sustainable Calvert Network – the following groups: American Chestnut Land Trust, Calvert County Farm Bureau, Calvert County Historical Society,
Calvert Eats Local, Calvert Farmland Trust, Calvert Nature Society, Cove Point Natural Heritage Trust, Southern Calvert Land Trust, Southern Maryland Sierra Club