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Maryland approves $2.5 million for farmland purchase programMaryland approves $2.5 million for farmland purchase program

The Next Gen purchase program provides financial help for young farmers looking to buy land.

November 11, 2019

3 Min Read
Landscape view of farm operation
PRESERVING THE LAND: In exchange for financial assistance to buy a farm, the program requires applicants to sell the development rights to a land preservation organization. Farm Progress

The Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corp. (MARBIDCO) has announced that the Next Generation Farmland Acquisition Program will reopen on a monthly basis to help qualified young and beginning farmers who seek to purchase farmland but need specialized financial assistance.  

The Next Gen program is a relatively fast-moving farmland conservation easement option purchase program that is designed to help facilitate the transfer of farmland to younger farmers while also helping to preserve the land from future development.

Selection to be in the program is expected to be competitive. 

“We are very appreciative of the great support that we have received from the Hogan administration and the Maryland General Assembly for this innovative dual-purpose program,” says Steve McHenry, executive director of MARBIDCO.

The state recently approved a third year of funding — $2.5 million — for the Next Gen program in fiscal year 2020, matching a similar amount that was approved the past two years.

The rules

Through the program, MARBIDCO pays up to 51% of the fair market value of the land, capped at $500,000. Next Gen program funds are provided as a down-payment at the real estate settlement, and MARBIRDO takes a contractual option on the farmland preservation easement purchase. This is designed to help enable a commercial lender to also make a loan to help with the purchase of the farm.

The farmer then gets several years to sell the easement to a rural land preservation program that can hold the conservation easement. Once a permanent easement sale has been facilitated, the farmer repays MARBIDCO the original Next Gen program option amount, plus a 3% administrative fee, using the money from the permanent easement sale.

If the farmer cannot sell the easement within the specified timeframe, the Next Gen option will be exercised for no additional money, and a permanent easement on the property will be held by a “third-party default easement holder,” either a county agricultural land program or a private land trust designated by MARBIDCO.

While there is no age restriction to participate, persons who are beginner farmers will have a greater likelihood of being selected to participate. The Next Gen program defines a beginning farmer as someone who does not own a farm or ranch or owns less than 20 acres currently; has not operated a farm or ranch as a principal operator for more than 10 years; and has at least one year of farming experience.

The beginner farmer has to participate actively in the farming operation.

Persons interested in applying to the Next Gen program should contact their county agricultural land preservation program to discuss the suitability of a farm being permanently preserved.

The Next Gen program application submission deadline is the last business day of each month at the MARBIDCO offices in Annapolis. Late applications will be held over to the next month.

For more information about the Next Gen program call Allison Roe, financial programs specialist, at 410-267-6807 or visit the MARBIDCO website.

Source: Maryland Agriculture and Resource-Based Industry Development Corp., 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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