How is it done and why is it important?
Agricultural conservation easements are purchased or donated voluntarily by the landowners to permanently protect farms for agriculture. Land protected by an easement cannot be used for any other purpose other than agricultural production or commercial equine activity. Protecting groups or clusters of farms helps maintain agriculture as a viable industry.
Agricultural Conservation Easement Defined:
An interest in land, less than fee simple, which represents the right to prevent the development or improvement of a parcel for a purpose other than agricultural production. It is granted in perpetuity, as the equivalent of covenants running with the land.
Benefits to the Agricultural Community:
1. Promotes farming and supports the agri-business system. The agri-business system is a very complex network of producers, processors, sellers and supporting services.
2. Ensures that no development unrelated to agriculture will occur on the land thus providing security to the landowners, and leading to greater capital investments.
3. Provides landowners the opportunity to improve or expand their operations.
4. Allows the farm to be passed between generations.
Benefits to the General Public:
1. Secures a local food base.
2. Stabilizes the local tax base. (Residential development increases taxes in order to provide services such as schools, police, fire, and utilities.)
3. Improves water quality and provides for groundwater recharge.
4. Preserves the scenic environment.
5. Preserves wildlife habitat.
6. Preserves the historical integrity of the area.
7. Preserves the quality of life in Berks County that residents have come to expect.