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145 Farms in 15 Counties Win State Farmland
Preservation Funding
For Immediate Release: MAy 11, 2000 Contact:

Hope Gruzlovic


A record 145 farms in 15 counties will be preserved with state farmland preservation funding after successfully qualifying today in the single largest application round in the history of New Jersey's Farmland Preservation Program. "These farms total 12,644 acres -- the highest single-round total in the 17-year history of the program," said Agriculture Secretary Art Brown, Jr. Brown serves as chair of the State Agriculture Development Committee (SADC), which administers the Farmland Preservation Program. "This is great news for New Jersey's agricultural industry, which is dependent on a stable land base for its survival." "Farmland preservation benefits all New Jerseyans," said Governor Whitman. "Today, we've taken another step closer to meeting our goal of preserving a million acres of farmland and open space, and protecting the quality of life here in the Garden State for generations to come." A total of 200 farms were eligible to compete for state farmland preservation funding in this round of the SADC's county grants program. Under this program, the SADC provides counties with cost-sharing grants to fund 60-80 percent of the purchase of development rights on farms. The counties, and in some cases municipalities, fund the remaining costs. By noon today, landowners were required to submit sealed bids containing asking prices for their development rights. Those bids determined the final ranking list for state preservation funding. Farms went into today's bid opening with a preliminary ranking based on quality scores. The SADC calculated those scores based on how well each farm met specific criteria that measure agricultural productivity and likelihood of development. As part of a separate process, the SADC also had certified development values for each farm based on the recommendations of two independent appraisers and a third SADC review appraiser. A development value represents the fair-market value and is the maximum price on which the state is willing to cost share. That value was shared with each landowner. In submitting their asking prices, all landowners had the opportunity to discount below their certified value. For every one percent landowners discounted, two points were added to their quality scores, so landowners who discounted were able to move their farms higher in the rankings and better ensure their chances of preservation. There were no bids for 55 farms -- 31 landowners did not bid, 2 were disqualified for bidding above the highest appraised value and 22 applications were withdrawn. Of the remaining 145 landowners, 80 discounted for a total savings of $1.5 million. Over the past 10 years, the discounting process has resulted in savings of more than $25 million. A total of $43.5 million was available for this round through the Garden State Preservation Trust Fund. State preservation costs for the 145 farms will be approximately $36.1 million. The remaining funds will be used to preserve additional farms through other farmland preservation programs.

To date, the Farmland Preservation Program has permanently preserved 419 farms totaling 62,231 acres, with an additional 109 farms and 14,804 acres approved for preservation. These totals do not include the farms that successfully qualified for funding today, which are subject to county, SADC, Garden State Preservation Trust and legislative approvals.