Agricultural Land Preservation
Farm and forestland preservation benefits all Calvert County citizens – not just the farm owners. Land preservation provides scenic beauty which contributes to our rural character. Farms use very little of our public services and currently add $110 million annually to the County revenues. Farm preservation helps to maintain our values and through the farmers’ markets, agri-tourism and farm-to-table movement, connects the farmers with the rest of the community, giving all the people a vested interest in the success of the program.
The award-winning nationally-recognized Calvert County program began in 1978. After 40 years, we have permanently preserved 29,000 acres, predominantly through easement sales to the State and to developers that transfer the housing density from the farms to subdivisions that are more suitable for residential development.
This funding has been a stimulus to many farmers. In my case, I sold an easement and development rights from our 320-acre farm to purchase an adjacent farm which was lost to our family 50 years ago as the farm was distributed among siblings. I also used the funds to pay estate taxes after my father’s death and the remainder helped us to start a new enterprise to replace our tobacco operation.
The income from easements and/or development rights has also been used by many other farmers to keep their farms whole during estate planning. Some invest the money for retirement and others use it to fund new ventures to keep their farms viable. Regardless of how the funds are used, the farms remain in perpetuity for all to reap the benefits and stabilize the land use in the Farm and Forest District.
For the most part, the program has worked as it was intended; however, the regulations need updating and new uses need to be created for development rights.
It is a finite program. Once our goals are reached, funding will be minimal to run the program. Young people are starting to come back to the land to farm. With the Washington metro area so close, the potential to sell our products is vast and through agricultural preservation, the land will be there to feed our citizens for generations to come.Read More