Food Hub gets some press

The Washington Post ran a story August 26 on our own Local Food Hub (which didn't get much help from BoS earlier this year), a place for area small farmers to bring their produce for distribution. According to the story, Food Hub director Kate Collier says the enterprise could generate $1.5 million in annual revenue in about seven years. That's a lot of zucchini!

–lastt updated Tuesday, Septemeber 1 at 1:07pm

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22 comments

The post quotes Collier as saying the $1.5M/year is revenue, not profit.

$1.5 million annual profit? Ain't no way!

That's a $29,000 profit each week.

And even if they do realize a $29,000 profit each week sooner or later, why should the taxpayers subsidize them right now?

We(County property taxpayers) subsidize farmers through Land Use taxation to encourage them to farm. If they can't sell their farm products easily, then what's the point of having them grow something and what's the point of subsidizing an activity that comes to naught?

What it would have cost the County to support the Food Hub is peanuts compared to the annual Land Use Tax subsidy.

Pennywise and pound foolish? Yep!

Good ole Albemarle County. Always a day late and a dollar short and usually on the wrong side of an issue.

That's exactly what should happen. Albemarle County tax payers should not be expected to fund any and every good idea that comes along. That's the private sectors job. It may well be true that Nelson County farmers may benefit by having their products sold to the larger market in Albemarle, but then, what have their farmers been doing with their products up until now? Is there any reason why the farmers could not have formed their own coop at their own expenses? Did the farmers come to the people at Food Hub and request this service because they desperately neeeded it or did the people at the Food Hub go recruit the farmers because they desperately needed it?

In this economy, no one is going anywhere and developers aren't buying anything. We have some breathing room to play catchup and get some screwy policies straightened out.

What the County needs to do is DOWNZONE the Rural Areas. If the County is really serious about preserving the rural character of the County, that is what needs to be done. Land Use is just a temporary measure. Development is a permanent issue that needs a permanent solution.

As an aside, the powers-that-be in Richmond assumed the value of properties in conservation easement would go down because of the loss of development rights. WRONG Tax Break Breath!!! The State sets the Tax Values the County has to use for CE parcels. History proves that these parcels are generally taxed at only ~30% of Fair Market Value. Why should the next owner, the one who gave up nothing and knew going in that there were no longer development rights, get such a rich tax break?

Lots of screwy stuff in Virginia.

Hey Wondermonkey, last time I checked, capital gains are paid to the federal and state governments, not local governments, so there is no sharing locally in the profit a farmer makes when he sells out to developers.

Land Use was not to "correct" a mistake in the constitution. Everything should be valued at 100%. How it's taxed is another matter. As with many laws, Land Use was intended to encourage and promote certain behavior.

In Albemarle, the few (less than 3,000 Land Use owners) benefit at the expense of the many (94,000).

BTW, there are plenty of hobby farmers and faux farmers in Albemarle County and there are plenty of folks who own vanity farms. They should not receive the Land Use Tax break and neither should people who don't have "real" forestry plans and still get Land Use.

Hopefully this LONG OVERDUE revalidation effort will flush out the folks who should not have been getting Land Use treatment.

This 30+ year entitlement program needs an overhaul. It's expected by the participants, not appreciated.

As for the rebricking of the Downtown Mall. If the City didn't get its annual pound of flesh from the County via Revenue-Sharing, there wouldn't have been a rebricking and the tax rate in the City would be at least 110 mils.

I am certain that the local development community would be glad if the County got rid of the Land USe Tax program entirely. So much of that property will be on the market, it will become cheap, dirt cheap. Of course the current owners will leave and stop paying taxes all, and, if not sold at auction, the county will become the owner and a lot of land will be producing no taxes at all. Betty Bartlett, what's wrong with my logic?

@Monkey

1. Baloney! Go do an advanced search on the County's GIS system of sales over the past five years of conservation easement parcels. The Tax Value ends up being ONLY 28% of the selling price on average. It's not about the development rights. It's about the cachet of owning a CE property. The new owners paid what they thought was Fair market Value knowing the development rights were gone. If they paid FMV, they should be taxed on FMV.

2. Trickle down Reaganomics? Didn't work 25 years ago. Doesn't work know.

3. Transfer taxes are immaterial in the scheme of things and sometimes high-dollar owners find a way to skirt that issue.

4. Income-producing real properties get all sorts of income tax breaks homeowners don't get. They get income AND they get to deduct depreciation and all sorts of expenses homeowners can't.

5. Land use is no correction. It was an effort to encourage farmers to stay on the land. Unfortunately, that isn't exactly what happened. How many farmers are there on the 21-acre lots in Blandemar? Why does someone who lives in Farmington get Land Use?

6. Given the economic climate and prospects for future development, moot point.

7. The government takes away rights for the benefit of the greater public good all the time. Last time I checked, there were ONLY 3,000 owners in Land Use and 94,000+ County residents. Why should farmers be immune? Downzoning would save the Rural Areas. Isn't that what the Comprehensive Plan says it's all about? Save the Rural Areas at the expense of the Growth Areas1 That's the Albemarle mantra.

8. Revalidation ONLY happened after Growth Area residents raised a stink about the laxity that is Albemarle County's hallmark. And the farmers fought it all the way. Land Use in Albemarle County meant never having to prove you qualified for it. That's how Enron happened, Tyco, Madoff, etc. Virginia is FAMOUS for its lack of enforcement and follow up.

County tax payers DO NOT subsidize farmers except in ones head...

Real estate taxes are supposed to be equitable across all properties based on consumption of taxes and property values are one way to make that happen.

Farmers are taxed 100% on their homestead and the surrounding two acres JUST LIKE YOU. The surrounding undeveloped land is taxed at a lessor rate because that land does not cost the taxpayers any money.

The taxes we do pay on those lands does SUBSIDIZE the kids who go to school whos parents property taxes don't even come CLOSE to paying for the schools budget.

Example: you live in a 250k house and pay 2500 a year in property taxes. Your three kids use up 10k a piece in the school system.. you are underpaying your share by 27,500 bucks a year.

I pay 3000 a year (on top of my 5000 for the house) and my cows don't ever go to school.

I also pay taxes on all of my farm profits, keep my land undeveloped which SAVES the county from widening roads, building schools, hiring more police officers, and providing more welfare.

Instead of looking at the subsidy as one for farmers it should be looked at as one for consumers since the subsidy allows farmer to bring you fresher produce at lower prices. It is also a community funnction that brings people together as a community. Some people have met their spouse there.

While we are on the subject the people really getting screwed are those that own undeveloped commercial property because they pay full taxes on the land even though it produces no income. After all of that they have to pay capital gains when they sell it or pay through the nose for permits fees inspections lawyers etc when they want to develop it.
They also often have to pay a "proffer" which is a "bribe" to the county to get the hell out of the way and let them do what they are suppose to be able to do by a little thing called the constitution.

Stop picking on farmers. Farmland lost is lost forever. Nobody ever bought a housing development and turned it into a farm.

betty asks...When a farmer ultimately sells out to a developer, will the non-Land Use taxpayers receive some of that profit in addition to the five-year rollback

The answer is YES, he will pay capital gains on an inflated price because the land is worth so much more when it gets rezoned residential and the farmer knows it before he sells.

Go ahead and roll back the land use adjustment and watch how quickly the farmers in albemarle drop out of farming because they cannot compete with farmers in other counties and states who's residents have the common snese to keep things fair.

I am sure you will enjoy all of the traffic, road construction and subsequent loss of property values and tax revenue as thousands of lots get divided and put on the market.

A farm is a corporation just like a restuant on the downtown mall. THe city buys 8 million dollars worth of bricks to keep them in business and reap it in the end in a prosperous business community that pays taxes. A farm saves the county money in all of the ways mentioned by freddy and probably more. My farming business doesn't require nearly as much police protection from shoplifters robbers, drunks, vandals etc.

The land use adjustment was not a favor to certain friends it was a way of correcting a mistake in the law that would have eliminated farming in Va.

So keep complaining and in a few years you too will be able to enjoy less fresh food trucked in from other states at a higher price in your depreciuated house.

Indeed, Collier was projecting revenue, not profit. Our bad. The post has been edited. Thanks for your input...and keep commenting!

Sincerely,

Dave McNair

@Betty Bartlett, I have to assume that you haven't been reading The Hook thoroughly. There are a number of properties each week for auction, a handful have been around a million dollars or more. Many of those property owners have "walked away from their properties." Since there has been no report of their joining the ranks of the homeless, they find somewhere else to go. Also, each week the Hook list property transfers, mainly in the County and currently through April. There has been a great deal of transfers to corporations, mainly locally known development companies. Many of these properties have considerable acreage.
"History proves that these parcels are generally taxed at only ~30% of Fair Market Value." How is the Fair Market Value determined after the property has gone into easement. It certainly won't necessarily be what it was before the property went under easement. Is a formula used, or is it determined by what was the selling price per acre or other properties under easement?

Eye@, I think the State specifies the value for CE parcels just like they do for Land Use properties. Most of the problems in Virginia originate in Richmond, but are played out locally. Not a lot of long-term thinkers over there.

As for people walking away, there may be some bottom-feeding going on.

The only way to permanently protect the Rural Areas is to downzone. Farmers would be vehemently opposed to that.

Farmers want it both ways. They want a tax break now and they want a profit when they decide to sell out and cash in on their development rights. And they're bellyaching over revalidation.

That's why I don't like Land Use.

Let's find another way to support legitimate farmers and foresters.

Another aside, how about the fact that Albemarle County collects property taxes net of Land Use, but pays Charlottesville based on gross tax value? What fool thought that up?

Betty:

1) properties that go into conservation do go down in price.. significantly in many cases. Why would someone want to pay more for a property without the option of subdivision removed?

2) The capitol gains taxes do trickle down to the local level.

3) County transfer taxes are paid on the appreciated price whenever a property is sold.

4) The county receives income tax earned by use of the property which does not happen with a residence unless someone has a home office.

5) It was a correction of an unfair punishment to farmers and NOT a payback to friends of politicians.

6) my argument about the consequences of eliminating it and losing out to smarter entities is still valid despite you ignoring it.

7)" Downzoning" is really another way of saying "we are taking your development rights that you paid for when you bought the property" Sort of like buying a duplex and the government telling you you cannot rent out the other half anymore.

8) The revalidation is underway and the rules are on the books to make sure that people skirting the law get caught. Real farmers don't have a problem with revalidation.

@Monkey

1. Baloney! Go do an advanced search on the County's GIS system of sales over the past five years of conservation easement parcels. The Tax Value ends up being ONLY 28% of the selling price on average. It's not about the development rights. It's about the cachet of owning a CE property. The new owners paid what they thought was Fair market Value knowing the development rights were gone. If they paid FMV, they should be taxed on FMV.

2. Trickle down Reaganomics? Did work 25 years ago. Don't work know.

3.

The government takes away rights for the benefit of the public at large all the time. Why should farmers or anyone be immune?

"...on our own Local Food Hub (which didn’t get much help from BoS earlier this year), ..." Obviously the Food Hub didn't need any help for the BoS. I'm am sure they are wiser and more self-respecting because of it. Farmers already have several creative ways of distributing their products and this may become a good addition.

BTW, Virginia constitution and laws say all real property is to be taxed at 100% of Fair Market Value. No mention of consumption or who uses what services. Some politician thought up exemptions and Land Use to curry favor with certain people. The basic concept is an ad valorem tax applied uniformly.

Nothing worse than a sanctimonious, self-serving farmer or anyone else for that matter who only thinks about him or herself. Cows don't go to school. So what! I don't have and have never had any kids, but I pay plenty for schools at full Fair Market Value. So what's the diff? And speaking of schools, with 700+ square miles, there's a lot of ground for school buses, police cars, fire trucks, etc. to cover. Do you the farmer pay a premium for the county's transportation costs?

When a farmer ultimately sells out to a developer, will the non-Land Use taxpayers receive some of that profit in addition to the five-year rollback?

freddy farmer shows that every issue isn't simple. It's good ever so often to be reminded of why Land Use was put into place originally.

I think Dave read the article too quickly. Here's what Jane wrote: "Collier projects that the Hub could turn a profit with revenue of $1.5 million annually. If all goes well, that could happen in six to eight years."

I read that as they need to bring in $1.5M in revenue annually to make a profit and that Collier thinks they'll reach $1.5M in revenue annually in six to eight years. I'll grabnt that it's not the easiest sentence to read.

Only a complete fool would think that spending $8 million on brick was necessary to keep anyone downtown in business.

What are these people doing that would cost $1.5M? Most of our non-profits don't operate with budgets that large. Was this some new kind of welfare program for the college educated?

Though the Supes didn’t want to support the Local Food Hub, which will act as a wholesale customer to local farms and a distributor of local foods, plenty of others did, including the Nelson County Economic Development Authority and the Piedmont Environmental Council. In addition, a star-studded group of individuals and organizations stepped up to the plate, including Coran Capshaw, John Grisham, the Bama Works Fund, and the Blue Moon Fund.

http://www.readthehook.com/blog/index.php/2009/07/16/farmers-helper-loca...