Program Purpose: The primary purpose is to preserve sufficient agricultural land to maintain a viable local base of food and fiber production for the present and future citizens of Maryland. The program purchases perpetual agricultural conservation easements on eligible farmland throughout the state. In other words, the program pays landowners to continue what they have done for years, decades, or sometimes a century or more — farm their land.

Type of Easement: Agricultural conservation easement in perpetuity held by MALPF and administered through the Maryland Department of Agriculture.

Eligibility Factors and Criteria:

1. Properties must be at least 50 acres, or if less than 50 acres, they must be:
a. adjacent to a preserved farm and
b. have a minimum of 1 lot right to retire.

2. Properties must have at least 50% USDA Class I, II, or III soil capability and/or Woodland Groups I and II.

3. All properties must have development rights and development potential.

4. All properties are ranked by qualifications, including soil quality and location.

5. The easement must be approved by the Carroll County Agricultural Land Preservation Advisory Board and the Board of County Commissioners.

Limitations on Development: Other than agricultural uses, other uses related to agriculture, and home-based businesses may be approved. Requests for future dwellings, such as for family members, are considered on a case-by-case basis.

Easement Value: The easement value or purchase price is determined by two traditional appraisals. The offer is 70% of the appraised fair market value of the land only or the applicant’s asking price, whichever is lower.

Conservation Practices: The easement requires a total resource management plan (also known as a “conservation” plan) to be developed and implemented. A forest stewardship plan may also be required. Periodic inspections are performed to ensure compliance with the requirements of the easement agreement, including the total resource management plan.
Method of Payment: Landowners receive a lump sum payment, which is paid in full at settlement.

Application Deadline: Applications for properties are accepted year-round but, if funding is not available, maybe held until a new cycle, which begins on July 1. Applications should be submitted by April 1 to ensure adequate time to process before being submitted to the MALPF by the County Program staff.

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

Links to Other Resources

Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation (MALPF)
MALPF Fact Sheets on Various Aspects of the Program & Process 
•Document: MALPF Permitted Uses Policy (approved 2017-May-23)
•Application: MALPF Easement