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The Agricultural Land Preservation office administers a variety of local, state, and federal land preservation programs focused on protecting agricultural lands. The 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.
Agricultural Preservation Advisory Board
Agricultural Reconciliation Committee
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 Frederick County has granted the option funds to a farmer, they must apply for a period of 5 years to sell an easement under the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation (MALPF) or another governmental land preservation program. Please see MALPF tab. 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.
Frederick 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.
Link to County Code for Critical Farms
In 2002, Frederick County began the Installment Purchase Program (IPP), for purchasing easements through the use of Installment Purchase Agreements. This agreement pays the farmer tax-free interest-only over a period of 10 to 20 years with a balloon lump sum principle payment at the end of the term. Over 20,700 acres have been preserved through the Installment Purchase Program.
To apply for an IPP easement, property owners must meet the following minimum requirements:
Have remaining development rights. Properties with no development rights may apply if the property adjoins permanently protected land consisting of over 50 acres or the property is within 2,000 feet of a comprehensive plan growth area
APPLICATION DEADLINE: Monday, April 3, 2023 by 4:00 pm
Interested applicants should contact Shannon O’Neil, Land Preservation Planner II, at 301-600-1411 or via email.
The Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation Program (MALPF) is a state land preservation program aimed at preserving prime farmland for future food and fiber production by paying farmers to extinguish their development rights. Since 1980, over 23,300 acres of prime farmland have been permanently protected in Frederick County and over 303,000 acres in the State of Maryland. See the Official MALPF Website for more information.
To apply for a MALPF easement, property owners must meet the following minimum requirements:
Have a minimum of 50 acres, unless an adjoining property is already protected
Have a soil quality of at least 50% class I, II, III soils or Woodland Groups I and II
Have remaining development rights
The Maryland General Assembly enacted the Rural Legacy Program in 1997. It was created as part of the state’s Smart Growth initiatives to protect large contiguous areas called Rural Legacy Areas. This program promotes natural resource based industries, provide greenbelts, preserve critical habitats for native plant and wildlife species, and protect riparian forests and wetland.
The efforts to apply for and create these protection areas were regional and included Montgomery and Washington Counties. Due to these efforts, 2 official Rural Legacy Areas were created in Frederick County, 1 in the Burkittsville Region, known as Mid-Maryland Rural Legacy Area, and the other in the Adamstown Region, the Carrollton Manor Rural Legacy Area. The team that worked on this project received recognition from the Maryland Chapter of American Planners Association in October 1998. Over 6,700 acres have been permanently preserved in Frederick County through the Rural Legacy Program.
The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) Easement Program is a state-funded land preservation program that aims to protect natural resources by preserving the property in perpetuity, installing practices that enhance water quality, and limiting future development potential. Properties which have an active CREP contract with the Soil Conservation District are eligible for a CREP easement. Since this program was implemented in 2009, over 3,500 acres have been permanently preserved.
Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program Contract Information