Welcome to the County of Berks
About ACE Program

Program Guidelines

Effective Date: October 26, 2011

Preliminary Application
Subdivision Guidelines

Click here to download the ACE Program Brochure. This brochure is geared towards all residents and visitors of Berks County.

Why Should We Preserve Farmland?

  • Secures a local food source
  • Encourages soil and water conservation
  • Lowers the demand for public services and the taxes needed to support them
  • Preserves the historic integrity of our area
  • Provides scenic openness and areas for wildlife habitat

What is an Agricultural Conservation Easement?

  • An Agricultural Conservation Easement is a legal agreement representing the right to prevent the development or improvement of the land for a purpose other than agricultural production
  • The easement is a covenant running with the land in perpetuity
  • Landowners are compensated up to $2,500 per acre for the easement through the ACE Program

Berks County Agricultural Land Preservation Board's Role in Farmland Preservation

  • Encourage landowners to make a long term commitment to agriculture by offering them financial incentives and security of land use;
  • Protect normal farming operations in agricultural security areas from incompatible farmland uses that may render farming impracticable;
  • Protect farming operations from complaints of public nuisance against normal farming operations;
  • Assure conservation of viable agricultural lands in order to protect the agricultural economy of this Commonwealth;
  • Provide compensation to landowners in exchange for their relinquishment of the right to develop their private property;
  • Maximize agricultural easement purchase funds and protect the investment of taxpayers in agricultural conservation easements;
  • Purchase agricultural conservation easements in perpetuity.

To Qualify for the ACE Program, the Farm Must:

  • Be located in an agricultural security area.
  • Contain at least 50% of soils which are available for agricultural production and are of capability classes I-IV.
  • Contain the greater of 50% or 10 acres of harvested crop land, pasture lands or grazing lands.
  • Must be at least 35 contiguous acres in size unless a minimum of 10 acres is of a unique crop or adjoining an attached perpetual agricultural conservation easement.
  • 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 landowner, that a parcel will be subject to further confidential review by the Berks County Planning Commission and the Berks County Agricultural Land Preservation Board.

How Farms Are Chosen For Easement Purchase

  • Landowner applies to the ACE program.
  • The farm is ranked at the beginning of the calendar year according to the Land Evaluation Site Assessment (LESA) Program. The LESA program considers four factors: soils, farmland potential, development potential, and clustering potential.
  • The farms that score the highest are chosen for easement purchase.
  • The quantity of farms selected is dependent upon the amount of funding available for each year.