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Old 10-12-2009, 06:26 AM
 
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We have a perplexing issue where I live, and I suspect others do as well. My town of 200 people has a "Village" and then the rural areas. Back in the hay day of my town (1980's) we had a thriving village with two stores, a church, fire dept, grange, masonic hall, train station, garage, post office, etc. Its not so thriving any more.

Out of the dozen houses on the street, (yes singular word there) 8 are now abandoned or up for sale. This is Maine so these are nice homes, big and spacious with attached barns and whatnot, and they have that nice quaint turn of the century look to them. In fact it looks no different today then from a picture taken in the 1930's. I mean literally its like time forgot this town.

Out in the rural parts, the area is 90% forest and 10% field. As people from away, drawn by a local environmental college and the second homestead movement come here, they drive through town and buy up the farmland. They plant odd houses (round homes, 8 sided homes, underground homes, and even teepee structures) right smack in the center of these fields. They do this to get the views and to raise livestock.

The problem is, with so little acreage in this town as ag land, the farmers here are losing farmland at an unprecedented rate. It seems in a few years time, these homesteaders realize that the glorious life they dreamed of, is actually teeming with stress and hard work. Its an 8 year cycle, but they soon leave, and in their wake leaves odd-ball houses that do not sell, once prime farm land laden with septic system and outbuildings that ultimately make the land unfarmable. Its a HUGE problem because the working farms need to get bigger to stay afloat, and yet farmland is shrinking.

The only answer I see is to get the homesteaders to buy the village homes. I mean they have the barns already built, and all the homes in the village are flanked by a huge field that measures probably 100 acres in size. Every house in the village owns a portion of this field (now unused and starting to grow up into trees). If homesteaders would actually live in town, they could have a few acres to raise livestock, make the village alive again, and be able to save money on property taxes, building costs, be able to walk to the post office and possibly a store, etc. It is permissable in my town to raise livestock in the village so there is nothing stopping people from doing this. But the best part is, if they decide the work is not worth it, they can leave without having a negative impact on the farming community that has been here for centuries...in many cases the same farm families.

So my question is, with a Maine legislature looking to stop the loss of agricultural land to development, what can I suggest to my legislatures to help promote people buying village properties, getting what they want and yet allowing farming communities to keep what little ag land exists?
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Old 10-12-2009, 07:44 AM
 
Location: In a happy place
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Don't get me wrong here, because I too hate to see good agricultural land swallowed up by residential (or commercial) areas. Hey, I like to eat. But remember, this generally wouldn't be happening if the owners of the farms wouldn't be selling their properties to people for other purposes.
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Old 10-12-2009, 07:44 AM
 
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On the mortgage thread, a lot of people who aren't farmers are getting USDA loans to purchase houses ( or build) in rural areas.

Perhaps USDA should either get out of the mortgage business or target those loans better to give incentives to move to towns you described.

One thing I am opposed to is the type of zoning that exists where I live. We are in zone A-40 ( which means one must have 40 acres to build a house)
The purpose of this was to preserve agriculture land and prevent people from buying up ag land in 5 acre plots for building houses on.

What is now happening is people are still buying 40 acre tracts, building a house in the middle of it, planting a huge windbreak, and then wondering what to do with the extra land. They usually plant a few trees and let it revert back to " nature"

Is that preserving agriculture land ?
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Old 10-12-2009, 09:07 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rrtechno View Post
Don't get me wrong here, because I too hate to see good agricultural land swallowed up by residential (or commercial) areas. Hey, I like to eat. But remember, this generally wouldn't be happening if the owners of the farms wouldn't be selling their properties to people for other purposes.
Its a common myth, most of the time the ag land being sold is by absentee landowners who leased their land to farmers to use in agriculture. Now that property taxes have eclipsed what farmers can pay for leased land...and they cannot afford to buy land and pay their own taxes on it...the land goes up for sale to grow houses on. Not good.

In addionion, years ago people who have open land for ag purposes got a tax break on it, but now many states need that extra revenue to make their budgets pencil out, so the land is being taxed for full rates. This includes farmers. Pretty hard to pay for all the land needed to farm, and then the taxes every year upon it, when milk is at 13 dollars a hundred weight and break-even costs are 18 dollars a hundred weight. There is no way a farmer today can buy addional farmland and make it pencil out. No way. So every time once leased land goes up for sale...the farmer loses another field/farm.

Now we have another threat and that is well meaning people thinking that additonal ways of farming are better. So now we have 10% of the land based here further being split into conventional farming and organic farming. 97% of the food in Maine is conventional and yet the organic farmers are running around getting the older population to convert their farmland into organic land when they pass on. These are billed as "farm trusts" but it leaves conventional farmers struggling to feed this state on very little land. Too bad we couldn't do the same thing, but atlas we are too busy farming to run around and talk farming at the same pace MOFGA and others are.

Your reply is just another example of us conventional farmers being accused of being greedy landowners, selling for profits and then whinning about losing land when that is generally not the case at all. Everyone thinks they can do a better job of farming then we can, but 10 years ago there was 500 dairy farms in Maine, now there is less than 335. It seems funny that everyone can do better then us, but no one is taking our place.

Guess we should just toss in the towel, sell our land, sell the equipment, the cows and retire, make a few million on the deal and be the greedy SOB's that everyone thinks we are. That is the thing to do, then we can laugh when everyone's leaded-tainted milk come from China and Mr Jones outdoor light is obstructing the view of the western sky which chaffes Mrs Johnson's hiney to no end since there are 50 houses in the field instead of cows.
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Old 10-12-2009, 09:17 AM
 
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------"10 years ago there was 500 dairy farms in Maine, now there is less than 335. It seems funny that everyone can do better than us, but no one is taking our place ."---

Great point !
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Old 10-12-2009, 09:18 AM
 
Location: North Cackelacky....in the hills.
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The idea that the only way to compete in farming is to get bigger is part of the problem...

As to the idea about the town,instead of wanting more laws,perhaps your town should make it known and advertise that would be homesteaders can have a small place closer in?
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Old 10-12-2009, 09:37 AM
 
Location: The Woods
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Quote:
Everyone thinks they can do a better job of farming then we can, but 10 years ago there was 500 dairy farms in Maine, now there is less than 335. It seems funny that everyone can do better then us, but no one is taking our place.
Yikes, I thought Vermont's dairy industry was in bad shape, but I believe we still have more than 1,000 dairy farms. And Maine is a bigger state with some good farmland (for Northern New England anyways).

Quote:
Now that property taxes have eclipsed what farmers can pay for leased land...and they cannot afford to buy land and pay their own taxes on it...the land goes up for sale to grow houses on. Not good.
Same here in Vermont. I've said for a long time the high taxes will have some pretty negative impacts besides just driving out businesses and making housing unaffordable...

The taxes need to be brought under control. I think that's the biggest problem.

I wouldn't want to live in town. But OTOH, a lot of people don't realize what it takes to live in a rural place, and it does lead to some problems when they find out they don't have what it takes and leave...
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Old 10-12-2009, 10:12 AM
 
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I actually think the posters on this forum have a better idea than on some of the other forums on individual states.

People stating their desire to move, asking for best locations to move to, stating they want 5-10 acres for raising horses--------then at the end, making it quite evident they don't have a penny to their name.

The very last thing they ask is-----" how's the job situation" ?

Mu usual reply is-------stop at the state visitors welcome area as soon as you enter your dream state. They will hand out deeds to 5-10 acre parcels and give you enough money to live til you ever find a job.(sarc)

Hey, who said money is a requirement to start achieving your dreams? (sarc)

As I always say, you can't eat pretty scenery and you can't pay a grocery bill with dreams.
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Old 10-12-2009, 10:20 AM
 
Location: North Cackelacky....in the hills.
19,556 posts, read 19,544,697 times
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But you CAN be realistic and plan ahead just a little and realise that you can't live your former lifestyle...although some find that difficult to grasp.

We personally have had an awakening of sorts over the last couple of years and decided(and had decided for us) to simplify and get out of the credit(debt) driven society we have currently.

We have no illusions about how hard living more simply is going to be...but then we aren't wanting an equestrian estate.

Horses serve little purpose...now sheep,goats,pigs and chickens are a different matter.
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Old 10-12-2009, 10:36 AM
 
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Come on Marmac, tell everyone the truth huh? You know us dairy farmers enjoy all the land we greedily have. We have the Mrs put on her little sundress, have the children running around in their bare feet as we all head up to the back forty and lay out a blanket and have some apple juice fresh squeezed from the apples grown on our property, have a picnic basket full of roast beef sandwhiches made from some of the steers raised here as well, and of course fresh lettuce, tomatoes and horse radish from the organic garden we all have. Naturally as the children go catch frogs in the crystal clear farm pond and play on the stone walls with each rock meticlously in place, we frolic as husband and wife do, having adult fun on the sun drenched blanket as we go for child number three. After we are done, the two children come back as we are reading books and enjoying the glorious afterglow as the sun begins to set, the cows merrily grazing in the background stopped by iconic barb wire fences, rusting as the afternoon sun fades to twightlight and we all return from the back forty to roast marshmellows in the little fire pit out back of the 150 year old farmhouse.

Oh yeah that's our life for sure.

I was actually thinking it was like I got an ulcer started from trying to obtain credit to continue farming for another month, the boy just hit a rock with the haybine on the Porter Place and I have a 1000 dollar repair bill I have no idea how I am going to pay for, 30 acres of hay is down and the rain is coming tomorrow. Of course I got another 4 cows with mastitis and the last time I remember afterglow was when the bull just got done with a heiffer. Heck I can't even remember what my wife looks like in a dress, much like without a dress because I am so busy, and the darn phone keeps ringing off the hook because the light pollution from this farm is bothering someone who can't see the stars from their deck lounger as they stuff their face with pizza teeming with cheese that was obtained from...you guessed it...a dairy farm!

***

I do agree though, posters on here are pretty adjusted. Even those on Hobby Farms is pretty sensible, but it probably comes as no shock that I was banned from the Back Woods Home Forum for stating the way things really are. I think the former two forums are filled with sensible people becuse on here (and Hobby Farms Forum) because we are people that do, where as Back Woods Home is teeming with people who are PLANNING on doing this or that. There is a whole lot of difference between Planning and DOING!.
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