The Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Foundation in Dover has purchased the development rights of 65 new farms, including 30 in Kent County, as part of the Delaware Farmland Preservation Program.
More than 5,750 acres comprise the farms, with 2,345 acres in Kent County alone, according to figures released by the Delaware Department of Agriculture.
The Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Program was formed with the adoption of the state Agricultural Lands Preservation Act of 1991. It is the only program that protects land for agricultural purposes in the Diamond State.
"Delaware's strong tradition of agricultural preservation helps preserve our way of life and heritage," Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee said in a prepared statement. "Our children and grandchildren will look upon this land and thank us for keeping it in farming."
Landowners who volunteer to place their lands into the so-called Agricultural Preservation Districts agree to not develop their lands for at least 10 years and devote their lands only to agriculture and related uses, according to the state act. In return, the owners receive tax benefits, right-to-farm protection and an opportunity to sell a preservation easement to the state that keeps the land free from development permanently.
"The state does not own any of the land enrolled in the program; the landowners retain ownership," Delaware Department of Agriculture spokesman Dan Shortridge said. "The foundation purchases the development rights for the farms, rather than the farms themselves. As a result, there is a conservation easement placed on the property that bars development of the farmland. It is an entirely voluntary program."
The Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Board of Trustees recently voted to permanently preserve the properties in Round 17 of the program, which began in 1991, for an investment of $10.7 million, Shortridge said. With the latest purchases of these easements, more than 110,800 acres has been permanently protected in Delaware, he said.
The voluntary preservation program leverages state, local and federal monies to purchase landowners' development rights, Shortridge said. The 17th round of purchases used $5.5 million in state funds allocated as a result of the farmland preservation allocation, $4.6 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program and $600,000 in county funds ($500,000 from New Castle County and $100,000 from Kent County), he said.
Page 2 of 2 - All purchases by the Foundation were done at discount — namely 56 percent of the appraised value on average, Shortridge said. The average discount for Round 17 was 66 percent. The average farm size in the program is 147 acres, at an average cost of $1,790 per acre.
"Protecting this land helps keep farms healthy and successful," said Agricultural Lands Preservation Foundation Chairman Bob Garey, a Felton-area farmer. "This is the result of teamwork and contributions from many valued partners."
STATE FARMLAND PRESERVATION PROGRAM
The state purchased the development rights of 30 farms in Kent County and 65 in Delaware as a whole in order to keep them from being developed. Here are the 30 farms in Kent County preserved:
Landowner | Acres | Payment to Landowner
AD&D Farms, LLC | 93 | $91,384.92
Janice L. Baker| 87 | $116,951.10
Robert & Doris Biggs |116 | $209,172.29
Ted & Marie Bobola | 91 | $318,439.90
Ted & Marie Bobola | 39 | $158,319.70
Patrick & Marianne Callahan | 33 | $104,422.00
Churchman Farms, LP |148 | $238,446.60
Ronnie & Barbara Hanson | 165 | $121,828.80
D. Wayne & Betsy Adams | 18 | $46,561.82
David Hrupsa | 52 | $67,856.10
Edward Jewell | 65 | $95, 485.76
Susanne Konschak | 28 | $51,662.40
Charles R. Larimore | 45 | $105,425.00
Lester & Duane Miller | 121 | $102,927.68
Willis & Bobby Miller | 51 | $78,874.75
Robert T. & Mary L. Minner | 42 | $68,401.13
William L. Paskey | 77 | $118,298.61
William L. Paskey | 44 | $58,514.40
William L. Paskey Jr. | 127 | $157,217.76
Pete’s Brookview Farms, LLC | 78 | $150,126.21
Robert Pritchett | 48 | $83,792.93
Matthew Santich | 116 | $123,316.50
Charles W. & Mary Emma Short | 90 | $243,545.50
C. Maynard Welfley | 86 | $110,919.22
C. Maynard & Susanne Welfley | 65 | $82,053.60
Janet & William Wells | 108 | $160,590.17
Janet & William Wells | 120 | $186,267.92
Norman & Janice Wilkerson | 30 | $79,721.20
Robert W. & Sylvia J. Wright | 84 | $110,530.05
Ronald M. & Shirleen H. Wright | 78 | $94,464.64