On April 27, 2004, Maryland Governor Ehrlich signed two new laws intended to improve the state's farmland protection program, as recommended by the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation (MALPF)Task Force. Under HB 606, when purchasing an easement MALPF may pay the landowner in installments, up to a maximum term of 15 years. MALPF must also, in consultation with the Treasurer, prepare a plan to purchase easements using installment purchase agreements (IPAs) with a term of 25 years.
While agricultural land preservation programs seek to maximize the number of acres, to preserve productive farms, to preserve contiguous farms, and to preserve threatened farms, they are often evaluated solely on the number of acres preserved. Preserved parcels in four Maryland counties were evaluated to determine how well programs traded off the four goals using a Farrell efficiency analysis approach. Comparisons are made between the types of programs. Of the four objectives, parcel size and productivity measures were the most likely to affect the efficiency measures.
The marginal values of different open space attributes are tested using a hedonic pricing model with residential sales data from central Maryland. The identification problems that arise due to endogenous land use spillovers and unobserved spatial correlation are addressed using instrumental variables estimation with a randomly drawn subset of the data that omits nearest neighbors.
The factors influencing participation in both purchase of development rights and transfer of development rights farmland preservation programs are analyzed using data from a survey of agricultural landowners and from spatial data on individual farms collected using GIS for four Maryland counties. Generally, the likelihood of participation increases with farm size, growing crops, if a child plans to continue farming, eligibility and the share of income from farming. Landowners closer to the nearest city were less likely to join.
Downzoning is the practice of initiating a new zone and regulation, or changing it so that densities or standards previously allowed on property are changed to further restrict the use of the property. Downzoning usually occurs during a comprehensive rezoning process conducted by the appropriate county agency. It can also occur to a specific property at the request of the owner of that property.
Government agencies in urbanizing areas are increasingly utilizing purchase and transfer of development rights programs to preserve farmland and protect local farm economies. This paper tests the effect of development restrictions imposed by permanent easement sales on farmland sales prices, using Maryland data. We correct for selectivity bias due to the voluntary nature of these programs in estimating hedonic sales equations. Although preserved parcels' actual land values are lower, the effect of the restrictions is not statistically significant.
Transferable development rights (TDRs) can be used as a local planning tool to preserve land for particular uses. TDRs separate ownership of the right to develop land from ownership of the land itself, creating a market in which the development rights can be bought and sold. Landowners who sell TDRs permanently preserve their land in an undeveloped state; those TDRs are then used to increase the density of development elsewhere. In this paper, we evaluate a TDR program for preserving farmland in Calvert County, Maryland.
Public amenities provided by a rural agricultural landscape, arising from open space and farm activity, are important to many citizens and policymakers. Widespread development of farmland in some parts of the country has spawned an expanding array of farmland protection programs by county, State and Federal governments, as well as by nonprofit organizations.
This section of Maryland law provides right-to-farm protection for eligible agricultural operations.
These statutes enable a Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easement program for the state of Maryland.