More than 127,000 acres of Delaware farmland are permanently preserved for future generations with the purchase of the development rights of 41 farms totaling 3,534 acres.
This is the 22nd consecutive 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 the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, Sussex County Council and Kent County Levy Court.
“I am proud to announce the largest round of Delaware farmland permanently preserved through the Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Program in the last four years. This is a result of federal funding from the Natural Resources Conservation Service and funding from both Sussex County and Kent County,” said Delaware Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse. “It is because of the importance that the general assembly and the governor’s office have placed on this program and the commitment of our partners in preserving farmland, that we can make it possible to keep Delaware land in agriculture.”
In this round of easement selections, there was one farm in New Castle County, 30 in Kent County and 10 in Sussex County preserved.
The Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Foundation selects those 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 first voluntarily enroll their farm into a 10-year preservation district before they can sell an easement. In addition to more than 127,000 acres in permanent easements, Delaware’s Aglands Preservation Program has more than 45,000 acres of land enrolled in farmland preservation districts.
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 the round recently announced, Kent and Sussex counties governments provided funding to assist with the purchase of development rights for farms in their respective counties.
Delaware's statewide program made its first round of easement purchases in 1996 and has since preserved 22 percent of New Castle County farmland, 38 percent of Kent County farmland and 16 percent of Sussex County farmland.