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May 28

OPPORTUNITIES FOR FARMERS AND FARMLAND OWNERS TO SELL DEVELOPMENT RIGHTS AND CONSERVE FARMLAND

Posted on May 28, 2021 at 11:10 AM by Allan Warren

Farmland GraphicAre you concerned about how rapidly farmland is disappearing in Pierce County? Are you a farmer or farmland owner interested in seeing your property conserved as farmland for perpetuity? Through a program with our partners at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and other local and state partners, we’re purchasing conservation easements to permanently conserve farmland.

More than 10,000 acres of farmland have been lost in the last decade alone, and with the Puget Sound being one of the fastest growing population regions in the country, the challenge only grows more difficult. The goal of this incentive program is to conserve approximately 1,000 acres of local farmland from 2017 through Sept. 2023.

How it Works:
Say you have a farm that is worth $500,000, depending on zoning, anywhere from 30% - 50% of the value of your land is in the development rights, i.e. the ability to subdivide and build more homes or warehouses. Let’s say your farm’s development rights are 40% of the value, or $200,000, this program allows us to purchase those rights at fair market value and retire them. The $200,000 you receive is yours to invest as you see fit, be that back into your business, a retirement account, or simply taking a much needed vacation. The underlying farmland value of your land, $300,000 remains intact and for any future buyer the land’s only use can be farming.Postcard

The District and our partners have funding on the table to make these easement purchases happen in the short term, so farmland owners can take advantage of record setting property development values while also ensuring their agricultural legacies live on in perpetuity. We’re excited that the implementation of these dollars continues this year through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). For property owners who are interested in putting Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) on their land Pierce Conservation District will connect you with land trust partners at Forterra or Washington Farmland Trust to begin the process. Land eligible for agricultural easements includes cropland, rangeland, grassland, pastureland and nonindustrial private forest land.

How does the public benefit from all of this, you might ask? Farmland not only ensures that we have fresh, healthy, and local food, but it’s an important part of our local economy and culture. Without it, we’re less secure, we’re less healthy, and we lose a part of our Pacific Northwest culture. Farmland also provides important ecosystem value, helping reduce stormwater runoff to our local streams and by providing important habitat for wildlife.

 USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.

 For more information on ALE please contact:
 Allan Warren, Communications and Development Director 
 allanw@piercecd.org / 253.845.9770 ext 121