Mark Collins, of Laurel, has been appointed to lead the Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Foundation Board of Trustees.

Collins was confirmed to the position through a virtual hearing by the Delaware Senate. Starting July 1, he will take the place of former Chairman Bob Garey, who served the foundation for 25 years.

“We are pleased with the Senate’s confirmation of Mark Collins and are looking to working with him as he steps into the chairmanship of the Foundation," said Delaware Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse. "As a fifth-generation family farmer, Mark has participated in the Aglands Preservation Program and understands the importance of preserving farmland so that we can continue to locally produce food.”

The Department of Agriculture manages the Agricultural Lands Preservation Program. The two-phase process was established in 1991. In the first phase, landowners enroll their land as an Agricultural Preservation District, voluntarily agreeing to continue using it for agricultural purposes only. In phase two, the landowner sells their farmland's development rights, in the form of an Agricultural Conservation Easement, to the state.

As of 2019, more than 134,000 acres of Delaware farmland had been permanently preserved by the program. That's over 25 percent of the state's total farmland.

Collins is a lifelong farmer. He and and his wife, Dawn, till 1,300 acres of watermelon, corn and soybeans and also produce poultry at DMC Farms in Laurel. The Collins have land enrolled as a preservation district for 25 years and, over time, sold the development rights to the state so that it can be preserved for the next generation of farmers.

A graduate of the University of Delaware, Collins holds a bachelor's degree in agricultural engineering. He was recognized by the university's College of Agriculture and Natural Resources in 2019 with the Distinguished Alumni Award for his outstanding career accomplishments, service and leadership to the agricultural profession and community. Collins has been instrumental in the Laurel Auction Market and the Mar-Del Watermelon Association, having served as a board member and president. He has also served as an executive committee member and executive council member of the National Watermelon Association.