Farmland Preservation Program

How many acres are required for enrollment?

  • A farm must be 50 acres (35 acres in some counties) or at least 10 acres in size and next to another eased farm or producing a crop unique to the region.

How long does the process take?

  • The process generally takes a year from the time an appraisal report is ordered through settlement.

Are easements permanent?

  • Yes.

What are permitted uses of a preserved farm?

  • Land must be used for agricultural production. Landowners are permitted rural enterprise activities as provided for in the county programs and to grant rights of way for public utilities as defined in the deed of easement. Landowners may drill for natural gas and mine underground minerals. Other permitted uses are provided for in the deed of easement.

How is purchase price determined?

  • The easement value – the fair market value minus the agricultural value – is determined by an appraisal report which considers comparable sales. Appraisal reports must meet Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).

How do I apply?

  • Contact your county farmland preservation program administrator. Or Click here to find a service provider by county

Clean and Green

How is eligibility determined?

  • Land must be at least 10 acres in size and in agricultural use, agricultural reserve or forest reserve. Tracts of less than 10 acres may be eligible if able to produce at least $2,000 annually from the sale of an agricultural commodity.

How are use values determined?

  • The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture supplies county assessment offices with use values annually. The county may implement these values or use lower values. Agriculture Use and Agriculture Reserve values are the present income the land can generate when put to its highest and best agricultural use. Forest Reserve values are based on the average value of timber in a particular county, or the average value of six timber types by county.

What are the permitted uses?

  • Land must be used for agriculture or forestry. Non-agricultural permitted uses include (but are not limited to) recreational leasing (Ag Use and Forest Reserve), oil and gas development with limited rollback taxes, small non-coal surface mining, wind development with limited rollback taxes and conveyance of land for public benefit. Land may be “separated” or “split off” with limited rollback taxes or no rollback taxes if certain conditions are met, as defined in the Clean and Green Act.

Are there penalties for leaving the Clean and Green program?

  • The penalty for any change in use of land enrolled in Clean and Green is seven years rollback taxes with 6 percent interest per year.

How do I apply?

  • Contact your county tax assessor to apply.

Agricultural Security Area Program

What are the benefits of enrollment?

  • Farms located in an Agricultural Security Area Program (ASA) consisting of at least 500 acres may apply for the purchase of an agricultural conservation easement by the commonwealth. ASA designation is a prerequisite for easement eligibility.
  • Local governments cannot enact local laws or ordinances that would unreasonably restrict farm structures or farm practices within the area. 
  • No agency of the commonwealth having or exercising powers of eminent domain shall condemn for any purpose any land within any agricultural security area that is being used for productive agricultural purposes unless prior approval has been obtained from the Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board.

What are the restrictions?

  • The ASA designation does not restrict the use of the property by the farmer. The farmer may sell or subdivide the property. The farmer or any subsequent owners may develop the property in any manner authorized by local zoning, subdivision, and land development regulations.

How do I apply?

  • The landowner submits an ASA proposal form to the local government unit by certified mail, with a return receipt requested. Find ASA proposal forms from the local government unit, county farmland preservation office, or the PDA website.

Do I have to reapply each year?

  • Once a property is enrolled in the ASA the designation will stay with the property when it is sold or subdivided. Re-enrollment is not required. 

How do I remove my enrolled land?

  • The farmer is obligated to maintain the ASA status of the farm for seven years after the initial application. A landowner can remove land from the ASA after the initial seven years by submitting a written request to the local governing body. The written request shall contain sufficient information to identity the land to be removed, and shall include the acreage of the land to be removed. This request shall be submitted by certified mail, with a return receipt requested.

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