Since 1978, Howard County has been protecting farmland through the Agricultural Land Preservation Program (ALPP) using three methods:
- The purchase of agricultural preservation easements by the County
- The dedication of agricultural preservation parcels as provided for in the County’s zoning regulations
- The purchase of agricultural preservation easements by the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation
Using these tools, the County has preserved over 20,000 acres of farmland in western Howard County.
County Purchased Easements
Through this voluntary program, a farmer whose land meets certain size and soil criteria can offer to sell a perpetual easement to the County, while holding fee simple title to the land and continuing to farm. The farm may be sold, but the easement, which restricts the development of the property, remains with the land and binds all future owners.
County Dedicated Easements
The ALPP also accepts agricultural easements dedicated to the County as a result of the subdivision process, either as density sending parcels or cluster subdivision residue parcels.
Maryland Agricultural Preservation Foundation (MALPF)
In addition to easements purchased by the Howard County ALPP, the MALPF program also purchases agricultural easements, and has acquired almost 4,000 easement acres in Howard County. The MALPF program is administered locally, which means that any questions or requests pertaining to MALPF properties should be directed to the Howard County Agricultural Land Preservation Program Supervisor.
Howard County Agricultural Land Preservation Board (ALPB)
The ALPB makes recommendations to the County Executive on the acquisition of new agricultural land preservation easement properties, reviews proposals concerning land already subject to an easement and assists ALPB staff with policy creation and refinement.
Conservation easements are tailored to fit a landowner’s individual situation, and the terms of the easement are arrived at only after detailed discussions between the landowner and a local land trust. Howard County developed a program to promote this type of easements for parcels of less than 50 acres. For more information, visit the Howard County Conservancy webpage.