More than 124,000 acres of Delaware farmland are now permanently preserved for future generations, with 3,039 acres of easements selected into the state’s preservation program in the 21st year of selections made by the Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Foundation.
The garms in this round would not have been preserved without matching funds from multiple sources, including the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, New Castle County and Kent County Levy Court.
In this round of easement selections, there were three farms in New Castle County, 18 in Kent County and 13 in Sussex County preserved.
The Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Foundation approves all applications, 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 has a permanent agricultural conservation easement placed on the property.
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. New Castle County contributed $194,389 to help purchase development rights on one farm, while Kent County contributed $101,232 to partially purchase development rights on 10 properties.
Delaware also has more than 53,000 acres of farmland in preservation districts, voluntary agreements in which landowners agree to only use their land for agriculture for 10 years. Farmers must enroll in a preservation district before they can sell an easement.
The foundation’s board of trustees includes representatives from agriculture and state agencies. Trustees are Bob Garey, chairman; Bill Vanderwende, vice chairman; L. Allen Messick Jr., treasurer; William H. Narvel Jr., secretary; Secretary of Agriculture Michael Scuse; State Treasurer Ken Simpler; Secretary of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Shawn Garvin; Peter Martin; Theodore P. Bobola Jr.; Robert Emerson; and Janice Truitt.