Maryland Farm Officials Hear Easement Case

Farm officials on Maryland’s Agriculture Preservation Foundation are preparing to hear the first documented case of a farmer asking to end an agricultural easement.

To combat rapidly growing urban and suburban populations (and the ensuing rural development that can threaten farmland and agricultural production), Maryland created the Agriculture Preservation Foundation. Farmers participating in the easement program receive tax credits or reductions. In exchange, they enter their land into binding agreements that prohibit suburban development and requires that all future landowners only use the land for agricultural purposes.

To date, the Maryland program has enrolled about 240,000 acres of land at a cost of more than $610 million.

The recent application to terminate the easement on the Mullinix Brothers Partnership’s 490 acres represents the first time a farmer has requested to leave the easement program. State law allows farmers to terminate farmland easements only if farmers can prove that agricultural production is no longer profitable or possible on their land.

The request must be accepted by the Agriculture Preservation Foundation, county farm officials, and local water officials before it can be finalized. The process, farm officials say, is deliberately burdensome to prevent farmers from selling their land if land values suddenly rise.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer