Easement Price Variations under the USDA Farmland Protection Program

This paper seeks to explain variations in the prices offered to farmers for the sale of their development rights in 12 of the states currently participating in the Farmland Protection Program (FPP) under the 1996 Farm Bill. FPP provides matching funds for state purchased agricultural conservation easements and other farmland easements as provided in the law. The price paid for conservation easements is an important incentive for farmers to give priority to farm land conservation among other available land uses. Current literature(e.g.WangandLibby,2002;Adelaja,1999)point out that the process of price determination for the purchase of development rights is motivated by several complex factors which in turn affect the willingness to supply protected land by a farm owner. In this literature, explanations for price variation emphasize the differing appraisal and scoring mechanisms used to establish prices offered to farmers at local and state levels, and the importance of funding sources and parcel sizes in price(Plantingaetal.,2000). This paper attempts to provide a more complete analysis of the process of price determination in the purchase of development rights at the county level in the USA.

By Lawrence Libby

Publication type: 
Policy brief
Date published: 
Wednesday, January 1, 2003