Del. Farmland Preservation Program Makes Significant Strides in Inland Bays Watershed

More than 3,800 acres of Delaware farmland have been permanently preserved.
23 farms in Sussex County, 26 in Kent County and three farms in New Castle County will remain as farmland through the Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Foundation.
Easements are purchased under the program.

“Preserving Delaware’s farmland is a priority and Delaware Aglands have helped keep farms in production,” Governor John Carney said. “The Department of Agriculture has a big year ahead with $20 million allocated to preserve Delaware farms from the ground up. With this year’s average discount rate at 44%, there is no better time for farmers to consider preserving their farms for future generations. I want to thank members of the General Assembly for seeing the importance of protecting agriculture here in our state.”
“Farmland preservation is not just about preserving Delaware’s number one industry. It’s ensuring our residents have access to Delaware-grown food; that our next generation has a career in agriculture — no matter whether it’s on the farm, working in agribusiness, teaching agriscience to our youth, or developing the latest technology; and the heritage, culture, and beauty of rural Delaware can be enjoyed by residents and visitors alike,” Delaware Secretary of Agriculture Michael Scuse said. “In this round, nine easements in the Inland Bays watershed were selected, encompassing 486 acres. This is the most Inland Bays easements we have selected in one year and the most acres in the last twenty years. This is a big deal to ensure these communities have local farms providing them healthy food into the future.”
Applications for the 27th round of Aglands Preservation will be accepted until October 31st.

How it works, according to the Delaware Department of Agriculture:

Delaware farmers interested in preserving their farms should be sure they meet the following eligibility requirements:

• Property must be zoned for agriculture and not subject to any major subdivision plan.

• The property meets the minimum Land Evaluation and Site Assessment (LESA) score of 170. LESA is a process that attempts to estimate the farm’s long-term viability based on the farm’s soil productivity and the land use and agriculture infrastructure on and around the farm. Scores range from 0-300. Aglands program staff calculate the LESA score when applications are received.

• The property has to meet the state’s Farmland Assessment Act (10 acres or more which generate at least $1,000 in agricultural sales annually; farms under 10 acres which create at least $10,000 annually in agricultural sales).

• Farms of 200 acres or more constitute an agricultural district.

• Farms under 200 acres can enter the program if they are within 3 miles of an existing agricultural district. With over 1,154 farms already preserved, it is rare that a farm under 200 acres does not meet these criteria.

Entirely forested properties in managed timber production can also enroll in the Forestland Preservation Program, which purchases Forestland Preservation Easements through a similar process as Aglands Preservation.