Gets 18,000 More Acres
in Preserved Farmlands
The Agricultural Lands Preservation Program accepted its single largest installment in its history when it added 18,000 acres as announced by Delaware Gov. Thomas R. Carper and Delaware Secretary of Agriculture John F. Tarburton on Wednesday, July 19, 2000.
The addition brings the program's total of permanent farmland acreage to 53,783 acres on 237 farms with an additional 119,000 acres of farmland preserved for at least the next 10 years.
The state has paid $55.28 million to persuade farmers to give up their development rights and preserve their lands for farming.
The 85 farms to enter the program this year give Delaware the highest percentage of total preserved land area preserved through a farmland preservation program, as well as the highest percentage of preserved farmland, in the nation.
Delaware has now preserved 4.3 percent of its total land area and 9.28 percent of its farmland. Delaware has also invested more per capita in its farmland preservation program than any other state in the nation at $73.36 per person.
Sussex County accounts for about 35 percent of the total preserved farmland. Agriculture remains the top industry in the county and almost half the land in Sussex is devoted to farming.
"By protecting our pristine farmland through this program, we are making investments that will pay immense dividends to future generations," said Gov. Carper in a ceremony on the Charles West Farm near Dover.
To qualify for the program, landowners must have at least 200 contiguous acres devoted exclusively to agriculture. Landowners who place their lands into Agricultural Preservation Districts agree not to develop their land for 10 years.
In return, those landowners receive tax benefits, right-to-farm protection, and an opportunity to sell the development rights to preserve the land permanently.
Agriculture now covers 46 percent of Delaware's land area, making it the major land use in the state. The First State has 2,460 farms totalling 580,000 acres. Agriculture employs thousands of state residents and adds more than $800 million annually to the state's economy.
The Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Program was created in 1991 to preserve farmland in the state. The Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Foundation, comprised of a nine-member board, is supported by the Delaware Department of Agriculture.
Sussex County Online Copyright © 1999-2000 Sussex County Online