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Easement program preserves 111 farms in DelawareEasement program preserves 111 farms in Delaware

This round includes six farms in New Castle County; 39 in Kent County; and 66 in Sussex County.

July 9, 2019

3 Min Read
A recent press conference featuring Ag Secretary Michael T. Scuse and Gov. John C. Carney
PRESERVING FARMLAND: A recent press conference featuring state Ag Secretary Michael Scuse (right) highlighted the recent purchase of development rights on 111 farms in the state. Delaware Department of Agriculture

More than 134,000 acres of Delaware farmland are now permanently preserved for future generations.

This is the 23rd straight year of easement selections by the Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Foundation. Many of the farms in this round would not have been preserved without matching funds from multiple sources, including USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, the U.S. Navy’s Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration Program, Sussex County Council, New Castle County Council, and Kent County Levy Court.

This round of selections includes 111 farms totaling 9,382 acres, including six farms in New Castle County, 39 farms in Kent County and 66 farms in Sussex County.

“With today’s announcement, we preserved our 100th farm in New Castle County and our 400th farm in Sussex and will have almost 500 farms (496) in Kent County,” said Michael Scuse, state secretary of agriculture, at a recent press conference. “Over the life of the program, landowners have donated, on average, 58% of their development rights value — that is, they received 42 cents on the dollar of their farm’s development rights value to preserve their farm. The average discount (donation) for Round 23 is 66%. This is a great investment not only for agriculture but all Delawareans.”

The Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Foundation selects farms approved for easement purchase using an impartial discounted ranking system that maximizes benefits for taxpayers. The foundation does not own the land, but rather purchases landowners’ development rights and places a permanent agricultural conservation easement on the property.

Landowners must voluntarily enroll their farm into a 10-year preservation district before they can sell an easement. In addition to over 134,000 acres in permanent easements, the program has over 174,000 acres of land enrolled in farmland preservation districts.

“The Navy is excited to continue our partnership with the state of Delaware to preserve land that not only benefits working farms and rural lands, but also enables military readiness and the ability of our service men and women to perform critical naval flight activities in the Atlantic Test Range,” said Capt. Geoffrey Moore, Naval District Washington’s chief of staff. “This unique partnership over the years has protected the state’s landscapes that are critical to our environment and quality of life while maintaining security of our airspace.”

To date, the Navy has partnered with Delaware on three parcels and hopes to partner on additional parcels over the next few years.

County governments can choose to partner with the state program and add county funds to select properties in their areas, leveraging state resources for the greatest impact. In this latest round, all three county governments provided funds to help purchase easements in their respective counties, the first time in 11 years that all three counties provided funding in the same round.

The Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Foundation made its first round of easement purchases in 1996 and has since preserved 21% of New Castle County farmland, 38% of Kent County farmland and 18% of Sussex County farmland.

Source: Delaware Department of Agriculture, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

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