A Brief History
of the Berks County Agricultural Land Preservation Board
The Berks County Agricultural Land Preservation Board has been protecting farmland since 1989 through the purchase of agricultural conservation easements, currently the only technique that will ensure prime agricultural land is permanently protected. The Agricultural Land Preservation Board, a nine-member board appointed by the County Commissioners, is tasked with administering the agricultural land preservation program in Berks County. Agricultural easements limit the activity to agriculture and remain with the property deed in perpetuity.
Landowners receive compensation based on appraisal values and maximum payments per acre in return for the long-term commitment to agriculture. To date, over 64,000 acres of farmland have been preserved. Berks County is now third largest in the terms of the number of acres preserved by an agricultural preservation program in the United States and the second behind their Pennsylvania neighbors, Lancaster County. This could not have been achieved without the widespread support of farmers throughout the County. The other crucial party to this success has been the Berks County Commissioners, who in 1999, awarded a $30 million bond specifically for agricultural easement purchases. In December of 2005, the Berks County Commissioners awarded a $24 million line of credit specifically for the purchase of agricultural easements and continue to support the program on an annual basis.
The Agricultural Land Preservation Board consists of a staff of four, including an Executive Director, an Assistant Director, an Agricultural Conservation Easement Technician, and an Agricultural Conservation Easement Program Coordinator.