Program Purpose: To preserve agricultural land for the future by paying willing landowners to permanently retire the non-agricultural development potential of their land. This is accomplished through agreement with the landowner on terms of a Deed of Conservation Easement and recording the easement in the Carroll County Land Records.

Type of Easement: Agricultural conservation easement in perpetuity held by Carroll County Commissioners.

Payment Options: The Carroll County Ag Land Preservation Program offers two payment options to better serve our farm community:
    a. Installment Purchase Agreement (IPA). The offer is based of a 20-year term. During this time, IPA payments are made every six months at 5% tax-free interest (Ask us how this, in effect, doubles the offer amount). At end of the term, the owner receives a balloon payment of the full offer purchase price.
    b. Lump-Sum Payment. The offer is 70% of the formula-derived fair market value, paid in full at settlement.

If insufficient funding limits the number of offers made, properties will be prioritized through a ranking system. IPA options, which conserve funds in the current fiscal year, may receive priority.

Eligibility Factors and Criteria:
1. A minimum of 60 acres is required, or, if fewer than 60 acres, must be more than 30 acres, AND:
    a. be adjacent to a preserved farm;
    b. have a minimum of 4 lot rights; and
    c. may not request to retain any lot right.
Properties of fewer than 30 acres are not eligible unless adjacent to preserved land of same owner.
2. Properties must have at least 50% USDA Class I, II or III soil capability.
3. All properties must have development potential.
4. All applications must be approved by the Carroll County Ag Preservation Advisory Board and by the Board of County Commissioners.
5. All properties will be ranked by qualifications including soil quality and location.

Limitations on Development: No development for nonagricultural uses. Retaining a future residential lot is discouraged and will result in a reduced easement offer price unless the property has no dwelling, in which case a non-subdividable dwelling is allowed. Requests are considered on a case-by-case basis.

Conservation Practices: The easement requires a total resource management plan (also known as a “conservation” plan) to be developed and implemented. Stream buffers must be established, and a Forest Stewardship Plan must be obtained within two years or before any forest harvest. Implementation of a conservation plan is required. Periodic inspections are performed to ensure compliance with the requirements of the easement agreement, including the total resource management plan.

Application Deadline: Applications for properties are accepted year-round but may be held until the next fiscal year if funding is not available.

For more information, contact the Ag Pres Program staff at 410-386-2214 or