Working for Smart Growth:
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Rethinking Farmland Preservation in New Jersey

A farmstead in Franklin Township

Rethinking Farmland Preservation in New Jersey. Photo © Nicholas T/Flickr

Some 850,000 acres of farmland remain in New Jersey today – roughly half of the farmland we had as recently as 1950.

New Jersey’s long effort to stem this loss dates from The Farmland Assessment Act of 1964 that grants preferential property tax assessments to farm properties. The Pinelands program, enacted in 1979, introduced regulatory restrictions for farmland and natural areas.

More recently, civic and governmental attention has focused on the state purchase of development rights (PDR) program administered by the State Agriculture Development Committee (SADC) since its inception in 1983. This program gained significantly increased funding with the creation, in 1999, of the Garden State Preservation Trust. Through this program, New Jersey has spent $292 million in public funds to purchase development rights to 476 farm properties, preserving some 69,500 acres as of December 31, 2000.

These significant legislative milestones – tax policy, regulation, public acquisition – along with many others, are a rich and varied experience that New Jersey can examine, learn from and build on. The New Jersey farmland preservation experience is far more than a narrow focus on the PDR program suggests – and offers a broader base to build on.

Download report:
Rethinking Farmland Preservation in New Jersey (PDF)

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