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 page. 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.