Delaware Governor John Carney recently announced the largest ever round of farms permanently protected through the state’s Agricultural Lands Preservation Program. The 2019 grant round will purchase development rights on 111 farms totaling 9,382 acres. The majority of these are within the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
With these conservation easements, more than 134,000 acres of farmland are permanently protected. This means “we have successfully preserved 25 percent of Delaware’s farmland,” said Governor Carney.
In 2019, Delaware more than doubled funding for the Agricultural Lands Preservation Program to $6 million, facilitating this successful conservation year. Many of this year’s farmland preservation easements are also supported by matching funds from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, the United States Navy’s Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration Program, and Sussex County Council, New Castle County Council, and Kent County Levy Court. The three county governments provided nearly $2 million toward 24 of the easements.
Farmland preservation is a major focus of land conservation funding and activity in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, with important programs in all states. In 2016, the Chesapeake Conservation Partnership embraced a long-term conservation goal to “protect the Chesapeake watershed’s productive farms and prime farmland from conversion and secure space for urban farming to ensure permanent, sustainable ‘close to home’ sources of food for the region’s population and to support the economic and cultural value of our working farms and farmers.”