ANNAPOLIS - The Board of Public Works on July 11, 2007 approved the purchase of 32 easements protecting 3,615 acres of prime Maryland farmland in 10 counties for just over $21 million in State and local funding. One easement of 72.5 acres was purchased in St. Mary's County for a total of $624,447 ($8,613/acre). No easement purchases were approved for either Calvert or Charles counties. This approval brings the total farmland protected in perpetuity by the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation (MALPF) in Maryland to 259,229 acres.
The Board is comprised of the Governor, Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp, and Comptroller Peter Franchot.
"Maintaining an adequate base of farmland is one of the top priorities of the Statewide Plan for Agriculture," said Governor O'Malley. "We are committed to those recommendations and by working with our local partners, we will keep Maryland's farmers on their land to preserve open space, protect our natural resources, and maintain the rich agricultural heritage of our State."
Created by the General Assembly in 1977, MALPF purchases agricultural preservation easements that forever restrict development on prime farmland and woodland and has permanently preserved land in each of Maryland's 23 counties, representing a public investment of over $400 million. Otherwise, the land's
deed holder maintains ownership of the property. With county and other state preservation programs, more than 486,000 acres of farmland are protected in Maryland. This is the greatest ratio of farmland preserved to total landmass of any state.
According to a survey conducted by the Schaefer Center for Public Policy last year, public opinion supports this investment. A full 88 percent of respondents believe that it is important that the state preserve farmland for farming. Marylanders believe that farms and the products they produce should remain a part of the State's culture and economy.