OCONEE COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA)- More people are moving to the Upstate, which means more development, but some are trying to protect the land for farming.
Slowly but surely, Eddie Martin says farmland in South Carolina is disappearing.
“In about 16 years we’ve had around 280,000 acres of farmland in South Carolina developed,” Martin said.
He’s the district leader of Oconee’s Soil and Water Conservation.
He says he fears the day when there’s no farmland left, leaving the state with little to no local produce.
“We need to have some form of local production, so that our food here is produced where we live,” Martin said.
There’s a number of reasons for this happening.
The easiest places to develop are the farmlands because they’re already flat, they’re already basically taken care of,” Martin said.
Another reason he says is that farming is becoming a lost trade, and many farmers have started to selling their land.
As the population has skyrocketed in the upstate so has the cost of land. Some developers say it’s gone up 170% in the last 29 years.
Martin says selling can often be a farmer’s last resort.
“I think it’s become easier to do something else. I mean, farming is hard work. It’s pretty much daylight to dark if you’re making a living at it, so that appeal was lost,” Martin said.
However, there is hope for landowners.
Martin says for those wanting to avoid development, they can get a conservation easement.
“That property is protected in it’s current state, so it will always be a farm from that point forward. That gives someone an opportunity to come in later and farm,” Martin said.