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   Minimum Criteria  
      of the Berks County Agricultural Conservation Easement Program 


The land contained within an application shall meet all of the following minimum criteria as set forth by the County Board, which includes all of the minimum criteria in 7 PA Code Chapter 138e.16.  

1. Be located in an agricultural security area consisting of 500 acres or more, or meets the special provisions for parcels not entirely within an agricultural security area. 

2. Be contiguous acreage of at least 35 acres in size (3 P.S. § 914.1(d)(1)(v)(II)) unless the tract is at least 10 acres in size and:

a. Is either utilized for a crop unique to the area; or

b. Is contiguous to a property that has a perpetual agricultural conservation easement in place under Act 43 or held by a “qualified conservation organization,” as that term is defined at Section 170(h)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C.A. § 170(h)(3)).  

3. Contain 50% of soils, which are available for agricultural production and are in capability classes I-IV, as defined by the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). 

4. Contain the greater of 50% or 10 acres of harvested cropland, pasture, or grazing lands. 

5. Applications to the Berks County Agricultural Conservation Easement (ACE) Program received after January 1, 2005 are also subject to the following provision: 

If more than 20% of an offered parcel is located in a Future Growth/Designated Growth Area as defined by the current Berks County Comprehensive Plan, with certified written notice to the landowners, that parcel will be subject to further confidential review by the Berks County Planning Commission and the Berks County Agricultural Land Preservation Board.

Failure to meet the minimum criteria set by the County Board will result in a rejection of the application.  Landowners of applications that are rejected will be given written notice of the rejection along with an explanation of the reasons why the application was rejected.