DOVER – Sixty-five new farms totaling more than 5,750 acres have been selected for permanent easements to add to the Delaware Farmland Preservation Program, the Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Foundation has announced.
The Foundation’s 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. With the purchase of these easements, more than 110,800 acres will be permanently protected in Delaware.
“Delaware’s strong tradition of agricultural preservation helps preserve our way of life and heritage,” said Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee. “Our children and grandchildren will look upon this land and thank us for keeping it in farming.”
The voluntary preservation program leverages state, local and federal contributions to purchase landowners’ development rights and have a permanent agricultural conservation easement placed on the property. All purchases by the Foundation are done at discount, 56 percent of the appraised value on average; 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.”
There are also more than 46,500 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 in addition to Garey and Kee are Bill Vanderwende, vice-chairman; L. Allen Messick Jr., treasurer; William H. “Chip” Narvel Jr., secretary; State Treasurer Chip Flowers; Secretary of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Collin O’Mara; Steven L. Ditmer; Theodore P. Bobola Jr.; and Robert Emerson.
A list of farms and acreage in Round 17 is available online.
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