Howard County Preserves Nearly 128 Acres of Farmland

November 2021

On November 2nd, 2021, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball signed a bill to preserve the largest remaining farm in the rural west of Howard County eligible for the Agricultural Land Preservation Program (ALPP). The property, currently owned by the Dickey family and soon to be sold to the Sharp family, adds 127.7 acres of land to the almost 22,900 acres already in the ALPP. The legislation preserves land that is primarily in a corn and soybean rotation and is comprised of 97% Class I, II and III soils.

“We are so pleased to have this property enter the Howard County Ag Preservation Program,” said Mickey Day, Chair of the Agricultural Preservation Board. “It is one of the few large tracts remaining and by inclusion in the program, completes an adjacent area of land that will be preserved for future generations.”

ALPP is a voluntary program that allows farmers whose land meets certain size and soil criteria to sell a perpetual easement to the County. The farmer still owns the land and can continue to farm on it but if the farm is sold, the easement remains and restricts development of the property for all future owners.

County Executive Calvin Ball re-opened the program in June 2019, after a year of being shut down due to a budget shortfall. Dickey Farm is one of five properties in the current acquisition pipeline, totaling 295 acres. This is also not the first easement for the Dickeys; 290 acres of land were preserved through the ALPP in 1984.

“The Dickey family were pioneers in ag preservation,” said Joy Levy, Administrator of the Howard County Agricultural Land Preservation Program, and “the Sharps have 11 other farms under easements, more than any other family, so both families have contributed a great deal to the County’s farmland forever efforts.”

In addition to the purchase of agriculture preservation easements, the County protects farmland by dedicating agricultural parcels in zoning regulations. There is also a Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation that purchases easements.

“Agriculture plays a vital role in Howard County, supporting our economy and our environment,” said Ball. “Our farms provide locally grown food, minimize our environmental footprint, and create jobs.”

Learn more about other ways Howard County supports farmers and protects farmlands.