Today, Montgomery County has preserved more than 70,000 acres of agricultural land. This represents the highest percentage of farmland under agricultural land preservation easements of any county in the nation.

The County’s agricultural land preservation goals are:

  • To conserve farmland for future food and fiber production.
  • To ensure a continued high-quality food supply for our citizens.
  • To preserve the agricultural industry and rural communities.

Seven separate agricultural land preservation programs are available. Each program places an easement on the property to prevent future commercial, residential or industrial development of the land. Some programs purchase development rights in exchange for placing an easement on the property while others provide tax benefits for the elimination of development potential.

The programs available are:

       4. Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation (MALPF)

       5. Maryland Environmental Trust (MET)

       6. Montgomery County Rural Legacy Program (RLP)

       7. Legacy Open Space Program (LOS)

To compare and contrast the agricultural land preservation programs that putchase development rights in exchange for placing an easement on property, click here.

Phase I:

Montgomery County achieved Phase I of the farmland preservation goal by preserving 70,000 acres of agricultural land through agricultural easements. While this is a significant achievement, the majority of this preserved acreage (over 52,000 acres) is encumbered by TDR easements.  While TDR easements do offer a level of protection, they are the least restrictive of all the easement programs offered with allowed building density of 1 lot to 25 acres.  Therefore, layering additional protections over TDR easements represents Phase II of  the County's agricultural preservation goal.

Phase II:

Montgomery County is working to improve agricultural preservation and reduce development pressure in the Agricultural Reserve through the use of "Purchase of Development Rights" (PDR) programs. These programs pay landowners to place easements on their farms that are more restrictive than the 1 lot per 25 acres allowed under TDR easements.  Montgomery County will make use of traditional PDR programs in addition to the new Building Lot Termination Program (BLT) to achieve our goal of eliminating 1,000 additional rooftops in the Agricultural Reserve.  This would represent enhanced protection over approximately 50% of the TDR eased acres in the County.