Northeast Region Leads in Both Threats to Farmland and Proactive Policy Responses

American Farmland Trust (AFT) launched their Farms Under Threat initiative in 2016 to document the extent, diversity, location, and quality of agricultural land in the continental United States, as well as the threats to farmland from expanding commercial, industrial, and residential development. In 2020, they published new data about state level threats and policy responses.

Between 2001 and 2016, over 800,000 acres of agricultural land were converted to urban or low-density residential land use throughout the Northeast region (see table). While Northeast states score highly for threats to development, our region also leads in policy responses. AFT identifies State Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easements (PACE) programs as a key intervention states can take to slow the loss of farmland. Delaware and Pennsylvania tie PACE eligibility to enrollment in agricultural districts, which helps ensures contiguous tracts of agricultural land can be protected as a whole. New Jersey and Connecticut’s Farm Link programs showcase PACE protected properties to help ensure that protected land stays in agricultural use. And along with mid-atlantic neighbor Maryland, AFT notes that the five top states for PACE acquisitions are all in the Northeast region (Delaware, New Jersey, Vermont, and Pennsylvania). Together, these five states have permanently protected more than one million acres of farmland. 

Thanks to AFT for its reporting on farmland preservation

Learn more about State Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easements

Learn more about agricultural district programs

Learn more about Connecticut FarmLink and New Jersey Farm Link

Read more in How State and Federal Programs Support Farmers, Fishermen, Food Entrepreneurs and Consumers in the Northeast