WSU program keeps donated land in farming
Updated: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 11:10 AM
By MATTHEW WEAVER
A new committee of volunteer farmers is helping Washington State University keep donated agricultural land in production.
The committee, which oversees WSU's Land Legacy program, recently met for the first time. Its job is to ensure the university uses best practices and appropriate farm programs to manage donated farmland, said Caroline Troy, senior director of development for WSU's College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences.
Tenant farmers work the donated land, and WSU real estate manager Dan Hardesty oversees it.
Land donors designate where they want net proceeds from the land to go, funding specific WSU programs.
The new committee reports directly to WSU President Elson Floyd.
Nine farms totaling 3,868 acres have been donated already.
"There's really a feeling that philanthropy makes the difference between good and great," she said. "So many of our programs are great because of the generosity of the private support we've got."
Committee chair Hal Johnson farms between Davenport and Reardan, Wash., and is on the board of the Washington Grain Commission.
University support has traditionally come through state and federal funding, which has become more difficult to obtain, Johnson said.
"I don't think that's going to change, so we need to look for other revenue sources," he said.
Farmers who aren't likely to pass their farm on to family members and who appreciate WSU's role as a land-grant university may find the program a personal way to make a gift, Troy said.
"It's a really personal decision -- it's not like giving an apartment building or gifts of stock," Troy said. "This is something your family has worked for and treasured, often for generations."