Effective Date: October 26, 2011
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.