Community Benefits and Costs of Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easements

The National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provided funding for American Farmland Trust (AFT) to estimate the benefits that a farm could provide a local community in the future when its development rights are purchased. AFT analyzed the financial impacts to communities and individuals that result from protected farmland. Through the use of existing sources of data to generate this information, potential benefits are quantified in a way that taxpayers can understand and appreciate.

AFT compared the costs of purchasing easements on two farms to the benefits those farms could provide to their communities to field test a methodology developed by J. Dixon Esseks, Richard C. Owens, Charles A. Francis and Dennis Schroeder in “Estimating the Benefits to Local
Stakeholders from Agricultural Conservation Easements.” Their research identified local residents or stakeholders who are likely to benefit from purchase of agricultural conservation easements (PACE) including:
1) owners of the farm, 2) subsequent buyers, 3) owners of adjacent
or neighboring properties, 4) local travelers enjoying the views of the protected parcel, 5) local residents who find recreational opportunities, 6) consumers who purchase agricultural products grown on that land,
7) owners and employees of local businesses providing goods and services to the farm, 8) users of downstream water who avoid flood damage or flood control costs, 9) users of downstream water who avoid the costs of sediment build-up or water pollution, and 10) local residents who value farmland preservation for protecting wildlife habitat, rural “history and heritage,” curbing urban sprawl or achieving other civic purposes.

Downloadable Documents: 
Carl Mailler
Northampton, MA: American Farmland Trust
Page Numbers: 
Publication Date: 
December 1, 2005
Literature Category: 
Reports and Studies