Purchased Farmland Conservation Easements

Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) programs financially compensate landowners who are willing to limit future development on their land. In this scenario, CLC works with the landowner to establish a conservation easement that will permanently protect the agricultural and natural resources of the land. As with donated conservation easements, the landowner still owns the property and can use it for farming and other purposes specified in the easement.  Learn more about how CLC has used this tool by reading about Delapenta Farms.

To learn more about the purchase of development rights, you can click here and download this PDF.  The basic steps for a purchased easement are outlined here.

Federal Funding

One of the ways in which a PDR can be funded is through the Agricultural Land Easement Program (ALE). The ALE is a voluntary program that helps farmers keep their land in agriculture. Administered by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the program provides 50% matching funds to organizations with existing farmland protection programs (like CLC), which enables them to purchase conservation easements.

For the past several years, funding from the federal Farm Bill has enabled CLC in partnership with Scenic Hudson to complete the purchase of conservation easements on farms throughout Columbia County. The ALE Program, which was formerly known as the Farm and Ranchlands Protection Program and merged with the Grasslands Reserve Program in 2014 to become the ALE Program, has to date enabled us to protect eleven Columbia County farms totaling more than 1,500 acres

State Funding

New York State purchase of development rights (PDR) is also a potentially powerful way to preserve farmland. The State program provides 75% of the costs of development rights purchases as well as associated project costs. In 2008, with the help of CLC, two local dairy farms, Chaseholm Farm in Ancram, and Shaker View Farm in New Lebanon, received farmland protection grants through the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets for the purchase of their development rights. Together, the projects resulted in the protection of 330 acres of prime agricultural lands.

In May 2014, for the first time since 2008, New York State issued a Request for Proposals for a new round of farmland protection programs.

Other Funding

Besides relying on state or federal funding to purchase conservation easements on valuable farmland, private organizations and landowners have the potential to form long-lasting partnerships to permanently protect farmland and natural resources for future generations. For example, in 2011, Scenic Hudson and CLC partnered to purchase the development rights on an 82-acre farm in Stuyvesant, cementing its position as a valuable contributor to the local economy. But it is the voluntary cooperation of individual landowners that truly inspires our organizations and sets a precedent for others. One great example of such cooperation is the donation of an additional 84 acres adjacent to the purchased easement boundary, which allowed the present leaseholder, Monkshood Nursery to expand its operation and continue providing fresh produce to surrounding families and vendors. Donations such as this underscore the belief that protecting farmland is of singular importance for the livelihood of the region and its people.

If you are interested in learning more about protecting your farm with a conservation easement, contact Marissa Codey at 518.392.5252, ext. 211 or at marissa@clctrust.org. She is happy to discuss your short-term and long-term goals for your property, and to brainstorm about the various ways in which CLC might be able to help you achieve them.

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