What is an agricultural easement


Agricultural Easements

Ag easements are an estate planning tool where farmers can preserve the family farm for future generations. Land owners who place an ag easement on a parcel can still sell it, will it to children or grandchildren, change the type of farming and encumber it as collateral.


What are the 4 types of easements?

For an implied easement to exist, the following three conditions must exist:

  • The owner of one property conveys a portion of that property to another;
  • The owner used the property in such a way that the parties believed or intended that the use would continue after the portion of the property was conveyed; and
  • The implied easement is necessary for the buyer of the portion of the property to use and enjoy his land.

What is the value of a conservation easement?

the value of the conservation easement, so that the conservation easement value is proportionate to the value of the land, owner incurs a higher capital gain tax rate when selling the land encumbered by the conservation easement. (26 CFR 1.170A-14(h)(3)(iii)

Can you build on a property or utility easement?

Yes, you can build on a property easement, even a utility easement. Yet if you value peace of mind over everything else, not building on that easement is the best way to go. The dominant estate owning the easement may need to access the easement.

What is the definition of easement?

What is an Easement? The legal term “easement” refers to the legal right to use another person’s real property, for a specific purpose and a specific amount of time. An easement gives a person the legal right to go through another person’s land, as long as the usage is consistent with the specified easement restrictions.


What does American Farmland Trust do?

American Farmland Trust launched the conservation agriculture movement and has been bringing agriculture and the environment together since 1980. We take a holistic approach to farmland and ranchland, protecting it from development, promoting environmentally sound farming practices, and keeping farmers on it.

What is a syndicated easement?

A “syndicated conservation easement” is essentially an investment vehicle where pre-packaged conservation easements are marketed to investors with the representation that a charitable deduction will accompany the investment in excess of the amount invested.

What is the current percentage of land used by humans for agriculture?

Global trends. Globally agricultural land area is approximately five billion hectares, or 38 percent of the global land surface. About one-third of this is used as cropland, while the remaining two-thirds consist of meadows and pastures) for grazing livestock.

Should I invest in a conservation easement?

Conservation easements are a great idea, in theory. Here’s the way they work. Basically, if you are willing to donate your property for the public good, and that donation reduces the value of your property, you get to take a tax deduction equal to the reduction in the value of your property.

Are conservation easements listed transactions?

Syndicated Conservation Easement Deals are Now “Listed Transactions”

What are the benefits of agricultural land easements?

Agricultural Land Easements protect the long-term viability of the nation’s food supply by preventing conversion of productive working lands to non-agricultural uses. Land protected by agricultural land easements provides additional public benefits, including environmental quality, historic preservation, wildlife habitat and protection of open space.

How to enroll land through agricultural land easements?

To enroll land through agricultural land easements, eligible partners may submit proposals to the NRCS state office to acquire conservation easements on eligible land. To enroll land through wetland reserve easements, landowners may apply at any time at the local USDA Service Center.

What is NRCS land easement?

Under the Agricultural Land Easements component, NRCS helps American Indian tribes, state and local governments and non-governmental organizations protect working agricultural lands and limit non-agricultural uses of the land. Under the Wetlands Reserve Easements component, NRCS helps to restore, protect and enhance enrolled wetlands.

How long does a 30 year easement last?

30-year Easements – 30-year easements expire after 30 years. Under 30-year easements, NRCS pays 50 to 75 percent of the easement value for the purchase of the easement. Additionally, NRCS pays between 50 to 75 percent of the restoration costs.

What land is eligible for agricultural easements?

Land eligible for agricultural easements includes private or Tribal land that is agricultural land, cropland, rangeland, grassland, pastureland and nonindustrial private forest land . NRCS will prioritize applications that protect agricultural uses and related conservation values of the land and those that maximize the protection of contiguous acres devoted to agricultural use, including land on a farm or ranch.

How much does NRCS pay for easements?

NRCS pays 50 to 75 percent of the easement value for the purchase of the term easement. Additionally, NRCS pays between 50 to 75 percent of the restoration costs. 30-year Contracts – 30-year contracts are only available to enroll acreage owned by Indian tribes, and program payment rates are commensurate with 30-year easements.

How much does NRCS contribute to land easement?

Under the Agricultural Land Easement component, NRCS may contribute up to 50 percent of the fair market value of the agricultural land easement. Where NRCS determines that grasslands of special environmental significance will be protected, NRCS may contribute up to 75 percent of the fair market value of the agricultural land easement.

What is an agricultural easement?

An agricultural easement is a form of conservation easement. A conservation easement is a voluntary, legal agreement between a landowner and a non-profit land trust that permanently protects land by restricting it for open space, recreation, wildlife habitat, or agricultural production. An agricultural easement is written with farm use as the top priority. Such an easement keeps the land in private ownership and available for agriculture by permanently altering the property deed to prevent or minimize subdivision, and to limit construction to agricultural buildings and residential buildings that support the farm (in a manner that serves both current and future landowners).

What happens when you grant an agricultural easement?

When you grant an agricultural easement on your property, you reserve all customary rights and privileges of ownership, including the rights to sell or lease the property, or to leave the property to someone else through a will. The same holds for future owners. (The easement’s terms will apply to all subsequent landowners in perpetuity.)

What happens if MFT is a holder of an easement?

If MFT is the holder of the easement, you and MFT will be involved in an ongoing relationship after the easement has been recorded. You and MFT will communicate regularly and meet face-to-face each year, as part of a special partnership designed to steward the land.

What is an OPAV in easement?

When appropriate, an easement could include an additional measure of protection, called an Option to Purchase at Agricultural Value (OPAV). An OPAV is language that is written into an easement which requires that when the farm goes up for sale (if it is not being sold to a family member or farmer), the land trust that holds the easement can step in to buy the property and resell it to a farmer. This provides an extra measure to ensure that the eventual sale of the land will be at its agricultural value and that it will continue as an active farm, creating affordability and keeping farmland in farming.

Why is conservation easement important?

The grant of an agricultural conservation easement can be a very important part of a farm succession plan, especially for landowners who want to ensure their land will remain available for farming in the face of an uncertain future. An agricultural conservation easement can create the security of knowing that a farm will never be developed for other uses. An easement sale might also provide some capital for retirement, or help to facilitate the sale of the land to a next generation farmer. MFT staff is well-versed at working with landowners that would like to include an easement in their succession plan; we are happy to share our expertise, and point you towards resources and tools that best suit your needs.

Why is it important to protect farmland in Maine?

Protecting Maine farmland is the only way to ensure we will have enough land to grow our food in the future. Agricultural conservation easements protect land from development and preserve its availability for continued agricultural use. As a property right that can be granted or sold to a land trust, an easement can also provide financial benefits to the landowner in the form of income tax incentives or income to support a farm operation. Also, it often allows the land to be sold to a next generation farmer at a more affordable price.

What is the best way to protect land?

Depending on the characteristics of your property and your needs as a landowner, donated easements may be the best tool to protect your land. Donated easements are generally easier to execute than purchased easement, and still bring financial benefits. Learn More.

Why are conservation easements important?

Conservation easements have been used for over a century in the United States by land trusts and governments to protect important agricultural and natural resources on privately-owned land. They are the most effective tool used in protecting privately-owned lands for ecological conservation and agricultural preservation.

What is a Malt conservation easement?

A MALT agricultural conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement between MALT and a landowner that permanently protects a property’s conservation values, like productive farmland and wildlife habitat, while limiting development and certain land uses.

What is the primary tool MALT employs to protect farmland?

. . the list goes on. The primary tool MALT employs to protect farmland is called an agricultural conservation easement. But what does that mean, exactly?

Does Malt require agriculture?

Learn more about MALT’s stewardship work. MALT easements also require continued agriculture, regardless of who owns the land in the future. For communities near and far this translates to continued access to healthy local produce, ethically-raised meats, climate-conscious wool products and world-famous cheese.

What is affirmative agricultural easement?

What Is an Affirmative Agricultural Easement? An affirmative agricultural easement is a voluntary legal agreement that restricts the use of land only to agriculture. An affirmative agricultural easement happens when the landowner sells or donates an affirmative agricultural easement to a land trust or government agency.

What happens if you buy land under an agricultural easement?

Farm-seekers considering buying land under easement (or buying land and restricting the land with an affirmative agricultural easement) should also consider that if they later choose to sell the land, they will generally receive the reduced value of the land. However, sometimes land continues to appreciate (increase in value) even with affirmative agricultural easement restrictions, or a subsequent buyer is willing to pay more than the market value of the land despite it being encumbered by an affirmative agricultural easement. Consequently, farmers placing their land under affirmative agricultural easement might also want to consider granting the easement holder an option to purchase at agricultural value, or OPAV, discussed here. OPAVs were also developed to encourage farmland to be farmed by restricting certain sales.

How is the value of an affirmative easement determined?

The value of an affirmative agricultural easement is determined by a qualified appraiser. The appraiser determines the value of the land before the affirmative agricultural easement and subtracts the value of the land after the affirmative agricultural easement to determine at the value of the affirmative agricultural easement. For example:

How does affirmative easement affect land value?

Affirmative agricultural easements restrict a landowner’s development rights and in turn lower the property’s fair market value typically between 10 to 40 percent. This should have the effect of making that land more affordable for future landowners.

What to look for when a farm seeker is unable to afford farmland?

If a farm-seeker is unable to afford farmland or is interested in lowering the purchase price, the farm-seeker could look for an organization such as a land trust willing to buy an affirmative agricultural easement on the property at the same time the farmer purchases the land.

How long does it take to get an agricultural easement?

Affirmative agricultural easement deeds are a very big deal. They can be very long and can take months, or even a couple of years, to negotiate. Frequently, the landowner and the affirmative agricultural easement holder go back and forth many times giving each other revised drafts. Usually, a lawyer will be involved on behalf of the landowner and another lawyer involved on behalf of the affirmative agricultural easement holder.

How does an affirmative easement work?

Also, because an affirmative agricultural easement is a property right, it is transferred from the landowner to the affirmative agricultural easement holder through a written deed , typically called an Easement Deed. The deed is then recorded publicly within the land records.


What’s An Agricultural Conservation Easement?

A MALT agricultural conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement between MALT and a landowner that permanently protects a property’s conservation values, like productive farmland and wildlife habitat, while limiting development and certain land uses. The landowner retains many of their rights, in…

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Why Are Agricultural Conservation Easements Necessary?

  • Throughout the nation agricultural land is lost to development at a staggering rate of 175 acres every hour — that’s three acres every minute. California alone makes up one-eighth of the country’s farm production, yet loses fifty-thousand acres of farmland every year. Conservation easements have been used for over a century in the United States by land trusts and governmen…

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Who Benefits from Malt Easements?

  • Our local, state and federal governments recognize that working agricultural lands provide valuable environmental resources, and that the preservation of farmland provides significant public benefits. Many local, state and federal policies and programs have been implemented to support agricultural land protection. In October 2020, Governor Newsom signed an executive or…

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How Can You Help?

  • Thank you for your support!
    P.S. We gathered MALT staff and a graphic recording artist to depict the answers to these crucial questions in a captivating illustrated video. Check it out below! View the final visual here.

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