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What is the Problem?: 

What is the Problem?

Farmland Is Being Converted To Urban Uses: 

Farmland Is Being Converted To Urban Uses America paved over 6 million acres of agricultural land from 1992-97. 1.2 million acres per year. 2 acres per minute!

We’re Spreading Out: 

We’re Spreading Out Population increases on outer edges of cities and in rural areas US population growth: 0.96% annual increase Acres used for single family housing: 2.02% annual increase

We’re Using More Acreage Per New House : 

We’re Using More Acreage Per New House Since 1994, 55% of developed land in 10+ acre lots!

Why Save Farm, Forest and Ranch Land?: 

Why Save Farm, Forest and Ranch Land?

Smart Move for the Community: 

Smart Move for the Community Agriculture contributes directly to the local economy. Privately owned agricultural land generates more in taxes than it uses in services.

Cost of Community Services: 

Median cost per dollar of revenue raised to provide public services. Cost of Community Services

Natural Resource Protection: 

Natural Resource Protection 932 million acres of private agricultural land 60% of wetlands and 38% of woodlands found on farms Developed land has far more negative long-term implications

Quality of Life: 

Quality of Life Hard to quantify, but very important Scenic amenities Sense of place Community appreciation of farms Tourist appreciation as well


86% of US Fruit Production. 86% of Vegetables. 63% of Dairy Products. Food Production


OBJECTIVES OF FARMLAND PROTECTION PROGRAMS Respond to the effects of nonfarm development on the farmer: Increasing land prices Increasing property taxes Increasing number of nonfarm neighbors Increasing costs of doing business


OBJECTIVES OF FARMLAND PROTECTION PROGRAMS Respond to the effects of nonfarm development on the community: Decreasing farm economy Increasing demand for community services Loss of open space Changing community character


OBJECTIVES OF FARMLAND PROTECTION PROGRAMS Respond to the effects of nonfarm development on the environment: Loss of wildlife habitat Negative impacts on water and air quality


OBJECTIVES OF FARMLAND PROTECTION PROGRAMS Create options and opportunities for agriculture and farmers: Transfer farm to next generation Create new markets for farm products Improve existing farm operations Create new farming operations


OBJECTIVES OF FARMLAND PROTECTION PROGRAMS Create an environment that supports and promotes agriculture: Protect land equity Engage the nonfarm public Stabilize the agriculture infrastructure


Farmland Protection Tools and Techniques


Conservation Easement A voluntary, legal agreement between a landowner and a conservation organization or government agency that permanently limits a property’s uses in order to protect the property’s conservation values.


Agricultural Conservation Easement Protects the agricultural value and productivity of the land. Limits or restricts non-farm development and subdivision. Flexibility allows farm to adapt to changing economic conditions. Places few limits, if any, on agricultural development or activities.


Purchase of Development Rights Programs Pay property owners to keep land available for agriculture. Landowners sell agricultural conservation easements to a government agency or private conservation organization. Voluntary.

Value of Easements: 

Value of Easements


Status of PDR Programs – (Totals as of January 2002) 22 state level programs 922,287 acres protected. Ø$1.4 billion spent.  40+ independently funded local programs Ø213,654 acres protected. Ø$604 million spent. 25 states have a state and/or local program


Sample state PDR program activity (as of 1/02) State Acres Easements $ Spent (M) Pennsylvania 209,338 1,657 419.3 Maryland 198,276 1,395 258.0 California 13,480 49 16.2 Vermont 88,281 278 44.5 Delaware 60,619 273 61.0

Sources of PACE Funding: 

Sources of PACE Funding General obligation and special purpose bonds. Annual appropriations. Real estate transfer taxes. Dedicated increase in property taxes. Federal Farmland Protection program (FRPP).


Benefits of PDR to landowners Voluntary. Permanently protects land from development. Converts equity in land into cash. Offers a viable alternative to development or financing. Keeps ownership and management of land in private hands. Involves the public in supporting farming.     

Drawbacks of PACE Programs: 

Drawbacks of PACE Programs Voluntary. Expensive! May not protect “critical mass of farmland” Monitoring and enforcement require major resource investment.

Transfer of Development Rights: 

Transfer of Development Rights Allows landowners to transfer the right to develop one parcel to a different parcel Established through local zoning Can protect farmland by shifting development


Calvert County, Maryland


Demand for growth in receiving areas TDR is not a no-growth option; depends on steady growth to work Political will to implement and maintain Should limit development in sending area Should allow less development than market will bear in receiving area Planning department with time/resources Conditions for TDR to work


Density transfer fees to a land preservation fund in lieu of transfers between landowners (Berthoud, and Larimer County, CO, and Hadley and Hatfield, MA). Farmland conversion mitigation fees (Davis and Yolo County, CA) -- any zoning change "from an Agricultural Zoning Classification to a Non-Agricultural Classification" requires mitigation at a 1:1 ratio. TDR: Variations on a Theme

Agricultural District Laws: 

Agricultural District Laws Allow farmers to form areas where commercial ag is encouraged Authorized by state legislatures and implemented locally 18 ag district programs in 16 states

Benefits of Agricultural District Programs: 

Benefits of Agricultural District Programs Can be tailored to local conditions Programs help stabilize the land base Low public cost Enrollment is voluntary

Drawbacks of Agricultural District Programs : 

Drawbacks of Agricultural District Programs Sanctions may not discourage conversion May not stem expansion of public services Incentives may not encourage farmer enrollment Creating districts can be a long and complex process


Pennsylvania Ag Security Areas Limitations on use of eminent domain. State agency review on projects w/in ASA. Local planning requirement. Farmers receive extra right-to-farm protection. Enrollment in ASA = PACE eligibility.

Growth Management Measures: 

Growth Management Measures Agricultural Protection Zoning Cluster Development Urban Growth Boundaries Adequate Public Facilities Ordinances


Restrictions on non-farm development Restrictions on subdivision Restrictions on lot size Site design review guidelines Setbacks and buffers Criteria for rezoning Agricultural Protection Zoning

Types of APZ Ordinances: 

Types of APZ Ordinances Exclusive agricultural zoning prohibits all non-farm uses Non exclusive agricultural zoning limits the number dwellings allowed Large minimum lot size APZ Area based APZ

Benefits of APZ: 

Benefits of APZ Inexpensive way to protect ag land Helps prevent urban sprawl Reduces infrastructure costs Can be implemented quickly

Drawbacks of APZ: 

Drawbacks of APZ Not permanent Generally reduces land values Difficult to enact Difficult to monitor and enforce

Cluster Development: 

Cluster Development Houses grouped together on small lots to protect open land May still not allow for production agriculture Most effective as open space protection or providing buffer


Calvert County, Maryland

Urban Growth Boundaries: 

Urban Growth Boundaries Area to accommodate anticipated growth Guide infrastructure decisions Encourage orderly growth

Adequate Public Facilities Ordinances: 

Adequate Public Facilities Ordinances Prevent development until services are in place Ensures that communities account for services needed for new development

Agricultural Tax Programs: 

Agricultural Tax Programs Helps farmers stay in business Treats farmers fairly Protects farmland by easing financial pressures that may force conversion

Types of Agricultural Tax Programs: 

Types of Agricultural Tax Programs Differential Assessment Taxes agricultural land at agricultural value Every state but Michigan Circuit Breaker Laws Offers tax credits MI, WI, NY have income tax credit Iowa has school tax credit

Benefits of Agricultural Tax Programs: 

Benefits of Agricultural Tax Programs Reduces farmers’ tax burdens Targets tax credits to farmers and ranchers Can help prevent conversions of enrolled farmland

Drawbacks of Agricultural Tax Programs: 

Drawbacks of Agricultural Tax Programs Does not ensure permanent protection Circuit breaker programs may require large public expenditures Often is not limited only to farmers

Agricultural Tax Programs: Variations on a Theme: 

Agricultural Tax Programs: Variations on a Theme California, Williamson Act: “Rolling” 10-year term easement in return for use-value taxation. “Super” Williamson Act: 20-year term = more benefits, including additional 35% property tax reduction. Clifton Park, NY, Local Tax Reduction: 10-20% additional tax reduction in return for 15-25 term easement.

It’s not just open space…: 

It’s not just open space…


It’s not “farmland” without farmers …

Planning for Agriculture, not just around it!: 

Planning for Agriculture, not just around it!


Planning for Agriculture Critical mass of farmland Avoid urban land use conflicts Expand and diversify markets Adequate farm support services Reasonable regulations Access to capital Farm transition and transfer

Right-To-Farm Laws: 

Right-To-Farm Laws Discourage neighbors from suing farmers Help protect farmers using sound agricultural practices Document state or local support of farming Limit ability to alter farming ordinances Gives farmers a sense of security

Conservation Opportunities in the 2002 Farm Bill: 

Conservation Opportunities in the 2002 Farm Bill Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP): $9 billion total funding; $1.97 million to HI FY’03. Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP): $1.5 billion total funding; $865,700 to HI FY’03. Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP): $700 million total funding; $377,000 to HI FY’03.

Conservation Opportunities in the 2002 Farm Bill: 

Conservation Opportunities in the 2002 Farm Bill Farm and Ranch land Protection Program (FRPP): $1 billion total funding; $0 to HI FY’03. Conservation Security Program (CSP): New incentive program for farm and ranch stewardship practices; $2 billion.


Investing in the Future of Agriculture: MA PDR Study Participation in the Massachusetts PDR program is a key element of a comprehensive strategy to keep farms viable for the future. 81% of farmers noted the desire to protect land for farming as a motivation for selling an easement. 55% used easement proceeds to re-invest in their farms, in addition to 66% that also paid off debts. 73% made changes on their farms that they overwhelmingly feel will help the long-term viability and profitability of their farms.


Investing in the Future of Agriculture: MA PDR Study Participation in the Massachusetts PDR program is a key element of a comprehensive strategy to keep farms viable for the future. 66% feel that owning protected land makes farming more viable. More than 90% plan to continue the agricultural use of their land. 73% of farmers intend to pass on their land to a family member.


From the Field: VT PDR Study More than 70% of farmers used the proceeds to improve or expand their farms. Of these farmers; 79% felt the changes made were important to the profitability of the operation. 84% cited the program as an important reason they could make these management and operational changes.


From the Field: VT PDR Study 73% of farmers surveyed feel that the program has positively affected their ability to stay in farming. 67% of participants feel the program will enable them to pass the farm to the next generation in the family.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Ties farm business planning with term easement: Planning for diversification and modernization. Implementation grants, 20K or 40K. 5 or 10-year restrictive covenants. PDR farmers get priority for business plans. Massachusetts Ag Viability Program




Community Supported Agriculture Each shareholder, as a member of the farm community, buys a "share of the harvest.“ This fee supports the running costs of the farm. In return, the farm supplies a weekly share of produce.


Agricultural zoning covers 90,000 acres, with ag processing as a permitted use. PACE program. Protected 2,500 acres, so far. County tourism centered on “Tulip Festival.” Agricultural economic development plan is being developed. County Agricultural Advisory Board. County taking pro-active stance to balance the needs of farming with resource needs to protect endangered fishing stocks. Skagit County, Washington


What’s at stake?


What’s at stake?

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