Agricultural Land Preservation Programs

About the Programs

The Agricultural Land Preservation programs offered through Frederick County, the State of Maryland, and the federal government, provide many opportunities to the farmers of Frederick County to protect the future of their farmlands and promote natural resource industries.

Besides the programs listed above the Agricultural Land Preservation Office can assist landowners interested in other land preservation programs such as the Maryland Environment Trust and the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program.

Programs (Tab details below)

  • Critical Farms Program
  • Installment Purchase Program (IPP)
  • Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Program (MALPP)
  • Rural Legacy Program
  1. Critical Farms Program
  2. Installment Purchase Program
  3. MD Ag Land Preservation Program (MALPP)
  4. Rural Legacy Program

Overview & History

In 1994, Frederick County started the Critical Farms Program. This program works as a lender by providing full-time farmers the up-front capitol they may need to purchase farmland in the county. The funds provided to purchase the farmland are considered an option to acquire a preservation easement on the property.  


Once the County has granted the option funds to a farmer, they must apply for a period of 7 years to sell an easement under the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation (MALPF) (see MALPP tab) or another governmental land preservation program. If the applicant is successful in selling an easement to the State, they can then repay the County the original option price.
If the farmer is not successful in the easement sale, they may exit the Critical Farms Program and repay the option price, or they may keep the Critical Farms money and an easement is placed on the property for no further payment.


The County has assisted 40 farmers in acquiring farms since the inception of the program, which has transferred over 5,100 acres to full-time farmers for continued agricultural use.