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Land trust a way to get farmland preservation

AFP Correspondent

LINCROFT (March 15, 2015) — Many farmers want to preserve their land either because they have future generations interested in farming or because they just don’t want to see the farm disappear.
One way to do this is in partnership with a land trust, such as the Delaware and Raritan Greenway.
Linda Mead, president and CEO of the D&R Greenway Land Trust, gave a primer on how she works with farmers to preserve their land at last month’s Northeast Organic Farming Association-New Jersey Winter Conference.
D&R Greenway has 18,000 acres of preserved land, including 8,000 acres of farmland.
The Greenway works with the State Agricultural Development Committee and raises private money for preservation, Mead said.
Mead noted preservation is good for working farmers because they continue to own the property and they can put a residence on the farm. It is also good for an estate because of capital gains taxes.
Working with the heirs of an estate requires dealing with all parties who have a stake in the outcome.
“Farmers tend to be land-rich and cash-poor, but we also work with the wealthy and philanthropic,” Mead said.
Selling the development rights can result in a windfall all at once or in an annuity or a combination of both.
Some farmers have chosen to preserve only part of their land at first, then continued to preserve the rest.
Preservation is part of the financial picture of the farm, Mead said.
Her colleague at D&R, Diana Raichel, the farmland easement manager, explained the D&R manages preserved land in agricultural use, as grassland, meadow or young forest based on compatible use of the land.
When a property owner wants to preserve land that is suitable for farming, the D&R looks for a local farmer, someone who is familiar with the land.
Mead cautioned interested farmers they need a financial advisor as well as an attorney.