Farmland Preservation Program
New Jersey's farmlands are the foundation for a strong agricultural industry and a way of life for generations of farm families. Scenic landscapes of open fields and dense woodlands are important parts of what makes New Jersey a desirable place to live and work. The Farmland Preservation Program plays an important role as an investment in our economy, our farming heritage and the overall quality of life here in our state.
The Farmland Preservation Program is administered by the State Agriculture Development Committee (SADC) which coordinates with the Sussex County Agriculture Development Board (SCADB), municipalities and nonprofit organizations in developing a preservation plan that best meets the needs of the individual applicant. Participation in the Program can help the applicant reach financial goals by providing the capital to expand their operation and to reduce or eliminate debt. Participants are also eligible to apply for cost-sharing grants to fund soil and water conservation projects. Preservation does not make farmland public or state property. The public has no right to access or use a preserved farm without the landowner's permission. Also, the landowner retains ownership of the property and can sell it to anyone for use as a farm at any time.
Land is eligible for the Farmland Preservation Program if it meets the SADC's minimum criteria, qualifies for farmland tax assessment and is part of an agricultural development area as determined by the SCADB. Normally, the farmer submits an application to the SCADB for initial review and approval. The application is then forwarded to the SADC for their review and approval. Once the state is satisfied with the application, the value of the farm's development easement is established through two independent appraisals and a review by a state appraiser. If the applicant accepts the state appraiser's valuation, the preservation process continues toward the final goal of selling the property's development rights.
Farmland Preservation is an important part of keeping New Jersey green and prosperous. It limits urban sprawl, protects our water and soils, provides us with an abundance of locally grown farm products and maintains our connection to the land. By preserving your land, you are contributing to the longstanding agricultural traditions that earned our reputation as the Garden State.