ON THE FARM: Jumping through hoops

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Some of you will see this before Christmas Day, and others afterwards. To all of you, from Leta and I, our very best wishes for a happy Christmas.

We are looking forward to 2013 as the year when the next generation of our family begins to develop a vineyard on this farm. For the past few years, I have rented out land to other farmers and not been very active as a producer.  This changed one year ago, after we made plans that resulted in me becoming an active farmer again as I planted some crops and did land preparation for what will happen next spring. 2012 was a good year, as I returned to what I had done for 50 years – in a limited way, and with the knowledge that our son would carry on what we were starting.

It soon became very clear that making changes today are more complicated and costly than when I started farming for the first time in 1955. Our first move was to sell the farmhouse to our son. It used to be that we could drive pipes into the ground to mark the agreed-upon boundary and then have a surveyor measure and produce a description, which would appear in a deed that would be registered, and that would be it. The total cost would be much less than $500 and it could all be done in less than one month.

We started in April to separate 1.25 acres of land with a house and one building on it from the farm. The house was built in 1832 and the lot is bounded on two sides by highways. It looked like a simple process when we started. During the summer, we dealt with appraisal, a survey, environmental approval, subdivision approval, migration and frustration. The dollars spent spoiled the look of $4,000. We were ready to do the deed by November.

I’ve heard it said that doing business in this county is difficult and I’m starting to understand what caused that statement. My words to the new county council would be to try and make it simpler for farms to move to the next generation and, if that can’t be done, please don’t make it more difficult.

It has become clear to me that when common sense is replaced by regulations, it becomes more costly and difficult to carry on. I understand why this has happened, but I still don’t like it.

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