Agricultural Conservation Easements
Agricultural conservation easements prevent the development or improvement of the land for any purpose other than agricultural production. All easements purchased by the Westmoreland County Agricultural Land Preservation Program are perpetual. The Westmoreland County Agricultural Land Preservation Board will also work with interested landowners to protect farmland through the donation of a conservation easement. Donation of a conservation easement may be a helpful tool in family
farm estate planning.
Pennsylvania’s farmland preservation program is the best in the nation, strengthening Pennsylvania’s agricultural economy.
Westmoreland County will soon reach over 14,017 acres on 119 farms that are protected by agricultural easements.
How is an Easement Chosen for Purchase?
In addition to being a part of an Agricultural Security Area (ASA), the parcel of land is ranked against other eligible parcels according to criteria established by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, using a Land Evaluation & Site Assessment (LESA).
Quality of Farmland
Agricultural Conservation Easements may be purchased on farms 50 acres or more in size. Parcels as small as ten acres may be preserved if adjacent to existing preserved land. At least half of the tract must be either harvested cropland, pasture or grazing land, and it must contain 50 percent farmland soils classified as I, II, III or IV, according to US Department of Agriculture’s Soil Survey Data. Farms of 35 acres to less than 50 and are not adjacent to other protected farmland may also be considered, however must contain at least 80% harvested cropland. Please consult our office for more information on 35 to 49 acre parcel qualifications.
Farms are ranked on the use of approved USDA conservation practices implemented by the landowner, to protect the soil and water quality of the land.
The farmland is ranked for possible uses other than agricultural use based upon a variety of factors such as: proximity of farm to sewer and water lines. Extent and type of non-farm development nearby, amount and type of agricultural use in the vicinity, and the amount of other preserved farmland in close proximity.
Determination of Value
An independent state-licensed general real estate appraiser is selected by the county board to determine the market value and agricultural value of the farmland. The difference between these two values is the maximum value of the conservation easement. The county board has the option to offer a purchase price that is less than the appraised easement value.
Conserving our Farmland
The long-term goal of the program is to permanently preserve farmland. The holder of the easement has the right to prevent development or improvements of the land for purposes other than agricultural production.
Conservation Easement Application
If you would like to complete an Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase application, please click the following link to download the
The Application is a PDF file and requires Adobe Reader to open.
Applications will be accepted at any time, with a cut-off date of September 1st for consideration of an agricultural conservation easement in the next round of funding. Please submit your application to:
Westmoreland County Agricultural Land Preservation Board
214 Donohoe Road, Suite B
Greensburg, PA 15601
For assistance in completing this form, or for any questions, please call 724-837-8971
Minimum guidelines have been developed by the Pennsylvania State Agricultural Land Preservation Board and the Westmoreland County Agricultural Land Preservation Board.
- Be in an Agricultural Security Area.
- Be at least 50 acres in size, unless adjacent to a tract protected by an agricultural easement. Farms of 35-49 acres may also be considered.
- 50% of the soils on the farm must be in USDA Capability Class I-IV as established by the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
- 50% of the farm must be harvested cropland, pasture, or grazing land.
- The owner/operator must maintain the farm following a Conservation Plan developed with a certified conservation planner that meets the PA Dept. of Agriculture’s requirements.