In its 25th consecutive round of easement selections, the Delaware AgLands Preservation Program has permanently preserved more than 143,000 acres of farmland.
In this round of selections, there were 23 farms in Kent County and 22 farms in Sussex County preserved.
The program has successfully preserved nearly 27% of the state’s farmland, a news release stated.
Since the beginning of the initiative, landowners have donated, on average, 59% of their development rights value — that is, they received 41 cents on the dollar of their farm’s development rights value to preserve their farm, the release said. The average discount (donation) for Round 25 is 53.57%.
The program selects farms approved for easement purchase using an impartial discounted ranking system that maximizes benefits for taxpayers. It does not own the land but instead purchases landowners’ development rights and places a permanent agricultural conservation easement on the property. Landowners must first voluntarily enroll their farm into a 10-year preservation district before they can sell an easement.
County governments can choose to partner with the state program and add county funds to select properties, leveraging state resources for a more significant impact.
Delaware’s statewide program made its first round of easement purchases in 1996 and has since preserved 22% of New Castle County farmland, 39% of Kent County farmland and 19% of Sussex County farmland.