The Delaware Department of Agriculture is preserving more farmland in the state.
Delaware recently bought the development rights to 41 more farms totaling 3,534 acres. That puts the total area of permanently preserved farmland in the First State at more than 127,000 acres, about one-quarter of Delaware’s total farmland.
This is the 22nd year the Delaware Lands Preservation Association has bought development rights from farmers. Deputy Ag Secretary Austin Short says the group hopes to eventually preserve at least half of the state’s farmland.
“So if someday we’re able to get to half of the land—which would be a little over double where we are now—that would be a great thing, but that might not be the ultimate answer either. I think we would at least like to get to that number, and if we can do better, and there is support for it, all the better,” said Short.
There are still more than 150 farms with a total of over 45,000 acres on a voluntary ten-year waiting list to sell their development rights to the state.
“There’s certainly quite a waiting list out there and it’s just a matter of how much funding we have each year as to how far we’re able to get down the list,” said Short.
Matching funds for this year’s easement purchases came from the USDA, Sussex County Council and Kent County Levy Court. And Gov. Carney is proposing $10 million for farmland preservation in next year’s budget.
Short says in this year’s round of easement purchases, farmers got an average of 26 cents on the dollar for their development rights.
Of the farms preserved this year, one is in New Castle County, 30 are in Kent and 10 are in Sussex.