How Can the Foundation Help You?


If you are the owner of eligible farmland and/or woodland, the Foundation can help you by purchasing an agricultural preservation easement on your property. This will ensure that your property remains agricultural in perpetuity.


An “easement” is a tool for you to protect prime productive farmland from development by selling its development rights and restricting the use of the land to agricultural use now and in the future.  The land remains under your private ownership to sell or transfer without interference.  The Foundation, in purchasing your easement, agrees to monitor the property forever to ensure compliance with the terms of the easement.  No public access is required by such an easement.        
The amount that the Foundation will pay for your easement is your asking price, the difference between the appraised fair market value of the land and its agricultural value, whichever is less, or a maximum of 75% of the appraised fair market value of the land.  Depending on where you live in Maryland, the value of your property, and your asking price, the Foundation has in recent years paid from $600 to over $10,000 per acre for agricultural preservation easements.  If you sell an easement for less than the full value of the restrictions as determined by appraisal, you may qualify for certain tax benefits (consult your tax advisor).


Easement purchases are made through a competitive application process.  For your property to qualify for the program, it must meet minimum size and soil eligibility criteria, be located outside a ten-year water and sewer service area, and you must commit to not develop, subdivide, or transfer the property while you have a pending easement application before the Foundation.  MALPF and local governments rank properties relative to other properties applying to the program and then make offers based on how much funding is available.
After selling an easement to the Foundation, you, as a property owner, will continue to own and operate the farm as before.  You may sell or transfer the property, but the land will be permanently preserved for agricultural use.  The original seller of the easement may retain limited development rights.
Landowners have used the sale of their easements for many purposes, including:


  • To finance the purchase of their farm or additional farmland;
  • For retirement;
  • For estate planning and settlement;
  • To finance the improvement of an existing farming operation;
  • To invest in the production and marketing of new farm products;
  • To finance the restoration of an historic home; and/or
  • To pay off existing debt.

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