Maryland Adds 1400 Acres of Preserved Farmland
Thursday, August 24, 2023
The Maryland Board of Public Works recently approved the preservation of several working farms.
The Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation purchased 14 new agricultural easements across nine counties in the state representing more than 1,400 acres. The program purchases development rights from farmers so the land will be kept as farmland in perpetuity.
Michelle Cable, executive director of the foundation, said farms are a critical part of the state's infrastructure.
"Agriculture is the number one industry in Maryland," Cable pointed out. "Being able to keep the land in farming is a critical tool to be able to keep that industry going. "
In 2002 the state established a goal of preserving 1 million acres of farmland by 2030, and have reached 86% of the goal.
Cable noted some of the working farms in the easement program include wineries, breweries and other producers that might surprise people.
"One of my favorite things, you'll read about different states that have like wine trails, and they go around," Cable observed. "Maryland actually has an ice cream trail. So, all of these ice cream creameries are on farm dairies that produce and make their own ice cream."
The easement acquisitions are funded by the Program Open Space fund, which established a 0.5% transfer tax on land transactions in 1969 as a mechanism for funding land conservation in the state.
Cable emphasized the Program Open Space fund supports several land preservation projects in addition to funding the purchase of agricultural easements.
"That money goes toward land conservation efforts," Cable outlined. "We get a percentage of it for our agricultural easement program. Department of Natural Resources get a good percentage of it for their park lands or forest land, their easement programs, wildlife heritage programs, parks and playgrounds, more urban and suburban parks as well, and playgrounds."
This round of farm easements were purchased for just over $8 million.
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