Soil and Water Conservation

Johnston County, North Carolina

Johnston County Voluntary Agricultural District

Agricultural District Program

A voluntary program for land owners that recognizes the importance of agriculture in Johnston County.

What is a Voluntary Agricultural District?

A Voluntary Agricultural District (VAD) is an area where agricultural production is promoted and encouraged. It is NOT zoning. It is a program where farmers agree to keep their land in agricultural production for a designated period of time. Upon approval of an application and certification of eligibility, landowners in the Voluntary Agricultural District may purchase an attractive sign designating their land as being a Member in the Johnston County Voluntary Agricultural District Program. The VAD signs will tell passersby that you, the farm owner, are committed to the protection of the agricultural way of life in Johnston County.

Persons buying land in these areas will see provided on the public record that for properties within 1/2 mile of the property line of any tract of land enrolled in a Voluntary Agricultural District. This information will be disseminated to other county agencies such as the Tax Office, GIS, Register of Deeds, and Planning Office for their records in notifying the public of the proximity of a VAD member. These VAD parcel show up lighted in yellow on Johnston County GIS.


To become a member of the Johnston County Voluntary Agricultural District you must:

  • Have land that meets the present-use taxation by the county or meet all qualifications of this program as set forth in N.C. G.S. § 106-743.4(a) and as defined in 160D-903 as a Bona Fide Farm.

    10 acres of farmland that are in actual production
    - or -
    20 acres of forestland 
    - or -
    5 acres of horticulture
  • Be certified by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service as being a farm on which at least 2/3 of the land is composed of soils that:
      • Are best suited for providing food, seed fiber, forage, timber,forestry products, horticultural crops, oil seed crops, livestock and poultry;
      • Have good soil qualities;
      • Are favorable for all common crops;
      • Have a favorable growing season; and
      • Receive adequate moisture needed to produce high yields averaging 8 out of 10 years.

    - OR -

  • Have an agricultural, horticultural or forestry operation history within the last 5 years.
  • Follow a USDA-NRCS Conservation Plan if highly erodible land exists.

Minimum Farmland Acreage Requirements

25 acres of contiguous acres of farmland OR three or more qualified farms within 1/2 mile of each other with combined acreage meeting the minimum 25 acre requirement for farmland.

How to Become a Member

Fill out an application at the Johnston Soil and Water Conservation District Office, Farm Services Agency, Cooperative Extension Service or download an application online:

Membership is free. The application will be reviewed by the Johnston County Voluntary Agricultural District Board to verify eligibility. An approved member will be notified by letter and will receive complimentary signage. At that time, the member will be eligible to purchase additional signage for their property if desired.


1. Johnston County Parcel ID Number - can be found on your Johnston County Property Tax Listing or online through the Johnston County Tax Office and/or Johnston County GIS Mapclick. The staff at Johnston Soil and Water Conservation District office are available if you need assistance with finding these parcel numbers.

2.Voluntary Agricultural District Applications MUST be notarized. Notary services are available at no charge at the Johnston Soil and Water Conservation District office at the Johnston County Agricultural Center.

Membership in the VAD requires a voluntary, non-binding Conservation agreement between the county and the landowner that prohibits non-farm use or development of such land for a period of 10 years, except for the creation of not more than three lots that meet applicable county zoning and subdivision regulations.

Membership may be terminated at any time without penalty by submitting written notice to the county.

This is a VOLUNTARY program. A member may terminate their membership at any time without penalty by submitting a written notice.


  • Persons buying land in rural areas will do so with the knowledge that a bona fide agricultural operation exists nearby.
  • Members in the VAD will be identified on county maps, which shall be displayed for public view in county offices, including the Planning Department and Register of Deeds.
  • Increases pride and identity in the agricultural community.
  • Promotes the production of locally grown produce and crops.
  • Helps protect our water, air and wildlife.

Conservation Agreement

If certified by the Agricultural Advisory Board, I agree to sustain, promote, and encourage agriculture in the District. I agree to prohibit non-farm use of the land under this program for a period of ten (10) years from the date certified by the Agricultural Advisory Board. This agreement may be revoked by the landowner by written notice to the Board, or the Board may revoke such agreement based on non-compliance by the landowner.

For more information, please contact the Soil and Water Conservation District at (919) 934-7156 ext.3

Page last updated: September 11, 2023