The Future of Preserved Farmland: Ownership Succession in Three Mid-Atlantic States
Keywords:Preserved Farmland, Ownership Succession, Policy Evaluation, Young Farmers
This paper examines the uses and succession of farmland preserved under state-sponsored purchase of agricultural conservation easements (PACE) programs in Delaware, Maryland, and New Jersey. Preservation programs in these states have been operating long enough to observe and assess actual transfers of preserved farmland ownership over time. The analysis is based on a survey of 507 owners of preserved agricultural land. Nearly one-third of surveyed preserved-farmland owners had purchased or inherited properties under already existing conservation easements. These individuals ("second-generation" owners) are contrasted from "first-generation" owners, people who sold or donated their land's development rights.
Descriptive and regression analysis is used to compare these two generations of owners on aspects of their preserved land's management that administrators and other stakeholders of farmland preservation programs have regarded as important. Specifically examined is (1) the percentage of the protected land that is actively farmed, rather than being idle or used solely for residential enjoyment; (2) the proportion of owners of preserved land who were "young farmers" when they first acquired preserved farmland; and (3) the percentage of owners who have succession plans to transfer land to a farmer expected to use the preserved land for agricultural production. Results provide optimism that deed-restricted farmland is not being diverted from agricultural use through succession in ownership.
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