PACE Resource Index

This index provides links to PACE resources (including factsheets, articles, reports, sample documents and ordinances) covering topics such as Making the Case for Farmland Protection, Funding, PACE Campaign Materials, and PACE Easements and Criteria. The resources included in this index are representative of farmland protection programs in the Midwest as well as the most active PACE programs nationwide.  Most of the resources listed below are available from American Farmland Trust's Farmland Information Center.

WHY SAVE FARMLAND -  1-5
COST OF COMMUNITY SERVICE STUDIES -  6-11
SURVEYS OF FARMLAND PROTECTION PROGRAM PARTICIPANTS - 12-16
FUNDING FOR FARMLAND PROTECTION - 17-21
PACE PROGRAM DESCRIPTIONS & REVIEWS - 22-25
PACE CAMPAIGNS & ORDINANCES - 26-33
SAMPLE PACE ORDINANCES - 34-40
PACE SAMPLE APPLICATION FORMS - 41-44
PACE SAMPLE EASEMENTS - 45-47
PACE SAMPLE PROJECT SELECTION CRITERIA & LAND EVALUATION SYSTEMS - 48-51

1) Community Benefits and Costs of Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easements

The National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provided funding for American Farmland Trust (AFT) to estimate the benefits that a farm could provide a local community in the future when its development rights are purchased. AFT analyzed the financial impacts to communities and individuals that result from protected farmland. Through the use of existing sources of data to generate this information, potential benefits are quantified in a way that taxpayers can understand and appreciate.

2) Wisconsin Working Lands Initiative: Report from the Steering Committee

Wisconsin is at a turning point. The extensive farmland that established our character as the dairy state is rapidly disappearing to development in many parts of the state. The forested lands that built our paper and recreation industries are being sold as small, private lots. These changes are essentially irreversible, and are accelerating.However, they are not inevitable results of economic growth and population increases. On the contrary, it is the way we choose to use our lands that leads to these losses. We can markedly improve our economic growth, public services, and quality of life by using our lands more wisely and by helping the agricultural industry increase farm profitability. It is easier to protect farmland when the farm operations on the land are profitable.

3) The Environmental Benefits of Well-Managed Farmland

This report addresses the costs and benefits of different land-use patterns on the environment and how sound agricultural management practices may produce tangible environmental benefits. Various categories of land use - urban, agricultural and natural lands - affect water, soil and air quality, along with biodiversity in different and interconnected ways. While the costs of urban land use to the environment are well known, the benefits that agricultural land use may offer to the environment are less well documented. It is the contention of this report that well-managed farmland, using sound agricultural conservation practices, not only will neutralize many of the environmental problems caused in the past, but that positive environmental benefits - either in the form of good externalities or public goods - will be produced as a result. While the environmental costs of agriculture are easier to measure, the benefits produced by well-managed farmland are more difficult to ascertain yet not impossible to approximate. The real difficulty remains in determining how much to fairly reimburse farmers for implementing and maintaining conservation practices that produce ascertained environmental benefits. The report addresses the costs to the environment of agricultural land use and the environmental and monetary benefits of sound agricultural management practices. These benefits include improving the quality of water, air and soil, carbon sequestration, retaining and promoting biodiversity by working landscapes practices, producing fresh fruits, grains, vegetables, oils low in saturated fats, dairy, lean meat and other highly nutritious foods, raising land values by adopting conservation measures, and farmland amenities – a public good that has become increasingly significant and valuable, both to the urban population and to farmers. For effective conservation policy analysis and implementation, we need ways to document the environmental benefits of farmland. The report addresses recent attempts to identify agri-environmental and agri-biodiversity indicators by examining a sample of U.S. and international models that have produced a number of indicators that are relevant to the environmental benefits of farmland. By promoting the use of such environmental indicators, we hope that future policy measures - programs and subsidies - will be informed by a more accurate account of the environmental benefits of well-managed farmland.

4) Estimating the Benefits to Local Stakeholders from Agricultural Conservation Easements

This paper maps out the varied beneficiaries for a local government service that is relatively new and likely to expand in its geographic incidence and total taxpayer dollars spent--employing public funds to prevent conversion of land out of farm use by purchasing agricultural conservation easements. Beginning in 1977 with the first purchase by New York's Suffolk County, local governments in coastal states, as well as some in the Midwest and other interior regions, have bought easements to prevent current and future owners from developing farmland for nonagricultural purposes (e.g., residential, commercial). But the owners "retain all other rights and responsibilities that go with land ownership, such as the right to sell the property and liability for property taxes" (Daniels and Bowers 1997, p. 145). As of mid-2002 twenty-three states had established state-level programs for purchase of agricultural conservation easements (PACE) that collectively protected more than 800,000 acres (American Farmland Trust, 2002a, 2002b). And there were at least 51 local-level programs.

5) Farm Business and Household Expenditure Patterns and Local Communities

Farm operators are an integral part of some rural economies. The businesses they operate support jobs and purchase goods and services from local implement and input suppliers. Farm household spending on food, furniture and appliances, trucks and automobiles, and a range of consumer goods also supports local jobs and retail businesses. Based on the 2004 Agricultural Resource Management Survey, the linkages between farm household and business expenditures and communities are explored. Farms in urban areas purchase household goods in markets closest to the farmstead, but traveled further to purchase farm business items. The opposite pattern was observed in rural locations.

6) Cost of Community Services Studies

Cost of Community Services (COCS) studies are a case study approach used to determine the fiscal contribution of existing local land uses. A subset of the much larger field of fiscal analysis, COCS studies have emerged as an inexpensive and reliable tool to measure direct fiscal relationships. Their particular niche is to evaluate working and open lands on equal ground with residential, commercial and industrial land uses. COCS studies are a snapshot in time of costs versus revenues for each type of land use. They do not predict future costs or revenues or the impact of future growth. They do provide a baseline of current information to help local officials and citizens make informed land use and policy decisions. This fact sheet provides basic information about this tool.

7) Cost of Community Services Studies: Making the Case for Conservation

Cost of Community Services (COCS) studies are a case study approach used to determine a community's public service costs versus revenues based on current land use. A subset of the much larger field of fiscal analysis, COCS studies have emerged as an inexpensive and reliable tool to measure the direct fiscal relationships between existing land uses. Their particular niche is to evaluate the overall contribution of agricultural and other open lands on equal ground with residential, commercial and industrial development.

8) Town of Dunn Cost of Community Services by Land Use

The purpose of this study is to show the breakdown of revenues generated and expenses incurred by land use type (Residential, Commercial and Agriculture/Forest/Open Space). The base year of 1993 was chosen because it was the most current year for which all the necessary information could be gathered. Initially the analysis shows that agriculture/forest/open space lands create the least burden on the taxpayers, while residential lands create the most.

9) A Cost of Community Services Study for Madison Village and Township, Lake County, Ohio

At the request of Lake County Soil and Water Conservation District (LSWCD), American Farmland Trust (AFT) conducted a Cost of Community Services (COCS) study to find out the current net fiscal impact of existing land uses in Madison Village and Township in Lake County Ohio. The study analyzes revenues and expenditures on a land use basis for fiscal year 2006 (year ending December 31). It examines revenues by land use and the financial demands of public services (e.g., public works, sheriff, planning, general government) and shows the cost of providing these services to residential, commercial and industrial, farm, and forest land. This study is an update of a 1993 COCS study also done by AFT.

10) Farmland and the Tax Bill: The Cost of Community Services in Three Minnesota Cities

Farmland in the seven-county metropolitan area of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn. has been urbanized at nearly twice the rate of population growth since 1970, resulting in the loss of more than 150,000 acres, or 235 square miles of farm and vacant land. Since 1980, growth has occurred almost exclusively in the second ring of suburbs and, to a lesser extent, on the urban fringe. Slowing the pace of urban sprawl around the Twin Cities has been hindered in part by the property tax-dependent system of local government finance. Even with a nationally lauded property tax base sharing program and one of the nation's highest levels of state aid to local government, municipalities compete for new development to increase their tax base.

11) Is Farmland Protection a Community Investment: How To Do a Cost of Community Services Study

This handbook is designed to help people conduct Cost of Community Services (COCS) studies. The findings of many COCS studies suggest it is time to start valuing farm and forest land for their contributions to the local tax base. Across America communities have paid a high price for unplanned growth; from traffic congestion and increased infrastructure needs to budgetary shortfalls and rising property taxes. While adding to the tax base, forest and farm land also provides wildlife habitat and protects our wetlands and floodplains. Primary farm and forestry industries are economically important, creating jobs and supplying lucrative secondary markets such as processing and lumber milling.

12) New York Farmland Protection Study 2009

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, in partnership with the American Farmland Trust, requested the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) to help it gather information about New York's long time Farmland Protection Program. The study was conducted by the NASS New York Field Office. This project specifically targeted past participants in the Farmland Protection Program funded by New York State. The study had several objectives and in general was designed to help understand how participants used funds from sale of development rights and how the Program affected the viability of those farms. Other objectives included assessing the pros and cons of the program, participant attitudes and overall satisfaction with the program.

13) Connecticut Farmland Preservation Program Study: Highlighted Findings

Cost of Community Services (COCS) studies are a case study approach used to determine the fiscal contribution of existing local land uses. A subset of the much larger field of fiscal analysis, COCS studies have emerged as an inexpensive and reliable tool to measure direct fiscal relationships. Their particular niche is to evaluate working and open lands on equal ground with residential, commercial and industrial land uses. COCS studies are a snapshot in time of costs versus revenues for each type of land use. They do not predict future costs or revenues or the impact of future growth. They do provide a baseline of current information to help local officials and citizens make informed land use and policy decisions. This fact sheet provides basic information about this tool.

14) Evaluation of USDA’s Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP)

In 2004, the USDA Natural Resouces Conservation Service asked American Farmland Trust (AFT) to evaluate the effectiveness of the federal Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP), a voluntary federal conservation program that provides matching funds to eligible entities to buy permanent conservation easements on farm and ranch land. AFT contracted with Dr. J. Dixon Esseks at the Center for Great Plains Studies of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) to conduct a survey of 422 FRPP participants.

15) From the Field: What Farmers Have to Say About Vermont’s Farmland Conservation Program

"Vermont realizes that agriculture is a huge part of its economy, and it works very hard to help it and make it grow. The farmland conservation program is part of the commitment that Vermont has made to its farmers," said Westfield dairy farmer Patrick O'Donnell, in an interview conducted for this publication. Since its inception, the Vermont farmland conservation program - which compensates farmers for selling the development rights to their land - has protected more than 260 farms and 83,000 acres of farmland. The program has allowed Vermont to conserve more acres of its farmland than nearly any other state; only Maryland and Pennsylvania have conserved more to date. Per capita, Vermont has spent more on its farmland protection program - nearly $42 million overall - than any other state in the nation.

16) Investing in The Future of Agriculture: The Massachusetts Farmland Protection Program

In 1997, American Farmland Trust and the Franklin and Deerfield land trusts conducted a study of 75 farms protected by the Massachusetts Agricultural Preservation Restriction program. The results of the study clearly document the agricultural and economic benefits of PACE programs.

17) Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easements: Sources of Funding

Purchase of agricultural conservation easement (PACE) programs compensate property owners for restrictions on the future use of their land. One of the biggest challenges in administering PACE programs is figuring out how to pay for them. It is necessary to have reliable sources of revenue to allow farmers and ranchers to incorporate the sale of easements into their long-term financial plans. This fact sheet provides an overview of funding sources and identifies some issues to address when deciding how to pay for easements.

18) Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program

The Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP) is a voluntary federal conservation program that provides matching funds to eligible entities to buy permanent conservation easements on farm and ranch land. The program was originally enacted in the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996. It was reauthorized and expanded in the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002. The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (the 2008 Farm Bill P.L.110-234) changed the purpose of the program from protecting topsoil to protecting “…the agricultural use and related conservation values of eligible land by limiting nonagricultural uses…” (16 U.S.C.§3838i). It also expanded the types of eligible entities and categories of eligible land. Most importantly, the 2008 Farm Bill changed the nature of the program from a federal real estate acquisition program to a federal financial assistance program that provides funds to entities for easement acquisitions. Funding for the FRPP comes from the Commodity Credit Corporation, the same federal entity that finances farm income support payments and conservation payments. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) manages the program.

19) Installment Purchase Agreements

An installment purchase agreement (IPA) is an innovative payment plan offered by two states and more than a dozen localities with PACE programs. IPAs spread out payments so that landowners receive semi- annual, tax-exempt interest over a term of years (typically 20 to 30). The principal is due at the end of the contract term. Landowners also can sell or securitize IPA contracts at any point to realize the outstanding principal. The IPA financing plan won the Government Finance Officers Association Award for Excellence in 1990. This fact sheet provides basic information about installment purchase agreements.

20) Full Mitigation of Farmland Development: A Proposed Approach

Given the inexorable growth in California's population, the main challenge facing farmland preservation is how to encourage land development that is more efficient - that consumes less land per person - for all uses, residential, commercial and civic. A mechanism must be found to significantly increase development efficiency, while accommodating the expected population in affordable housing. Graduated mitigation fees that reflect the full opportunity cost of land consumption offer one such approach. The full impact of farmland development is not being mitigated by the current approach of charging fixed fees based only on preserving an amount of land equal to that being developed. There should also be mitigation for the opportunity cost of developing at low density, as measured by the amount of additional farmland that will have to be developed to accommodate the same population growth. Properly structured, mitigation fees would not just fully compensate for the farmland actually consumed by development, but also encourage more efficient development that is, in effect, "self-mitigating".

21) Mitigation of Farmland Loss

American Farmland Trust (AFT) conducted research to provide the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) with information about programs that practice mitigation of farmland loss across the country. This report contains a brief summary and evaluation of the Farmland Protection Policy Act (FPPA) and case studies that describe the approaches and results of mitigation efforts in some state and local programs.

22) Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easements

Purchase of agricultural conservation easement (PACE) programs compensate property owners for restricting the future use of their land. PACE is known as Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) in many locations. This fact sheet provides basic information on purchase of agricultural conservation easements.

23) Farmland Protection Toolbox

This fact sheet provides a brief description of the tools and techniques that state and local governments are using to protect farmland and ensure the economic viability of agriculture.

24) A National View of Agricultural Easement Programs: Easements and Local Planning - Report 3

When agricultural easement programs and local planning policies work together in a mutually-reinforcing fashion, they advance the cause of effective farmland protection—as well as the related public goals of efficient land use, wise use of funds and political accountability. Examining the planning connections of 46 easement programs in 15 states, this report is based on the perceptions of knowledgeable persons collected in extensive phone interviews and on more objective information from other sources.

25) A National View of Agricultural Easement Programs: Measuring Success in Protecting Farmland

When do agricultural easements effectively preserve farmland from urban influences? This report answers the question by examining five different tests of effective farmland protection as applied to the experiences of 46 easement programs in 15 states.

26) Dunn, WI: PACE Edition of the Town of Dunn Newsletter

A 1996 newsletter produced by the Rural Preservation Committee to build support for a purchase of agricultural conservation easements in Dunn, Wisconsin.

27) Dunn, WI: PACE Frequently Asked Questions

A sheet of frequently asked questions about establishing a purchase of agricultural conservation easements program in Dunn, Wisconsin.

28) Dakota County, MN: Landowner Fact Sheet

This is a fact sheet of frequently asked questions for landowners interested in selling their development rights.

29) Forging New Protections: Purchasing Development Rights to Save Farmland

Farmland protection programs start with a good idea, but how do they become reality? This report documents how farmers and other citizens in Peninsula Township, Michigan, designed and built support for a purchase of agricultural conservation easement program. Includes information on PACE, details on the design of Peninsula Township's program and sample documents.

30) Peninsula Township, MI: Campaign Documents

Documents from a successful 1994 public awareness campagin to build support for a purchase of agricultural conservation easements program in Peninsula Township, Michigan. Appendices E, F, G, I and J from the American Farmland Trust publication, Forging New Protections: Purchasing Development Rights to Save Farmland.

31) Medina County, OH: PACE Brochure

This brochure was presented by the Medina County, Ohio auditor to provide residents with information about the benefits of a purchase of agricultural conservation easements program.

32) Wayne County Ohio Survey

This survey instrument was prepared by American Viewpoint, an independent market research firm, for American Farmland Trust and The Trust for Public Lands to gauge public opinion in Wayne County, Ohio about a funding initiative for farmland protection.

33) Wayne County Ohio Survey Analysis

This survey was conducted by American Viewpoint, an independent market research firm, for American Farmland Trust and The Trust for Public Lands to gauge public opinion in Wayne County, Ohio about a funding initiative for farmland protection.

34) Dunn, WI: Local PACE Enabling Ordinance

This law enables a purchase of agricultural conservation easements program in Dunn, Wisconsin

35) Boone County, IL: Local PACE Enabling Ordinance

This ordinance creates the Boone County Conservation Easement and Farmland Protection program.

36) Harrison County, IN: Local PACE Enabling Ordinances

These ordinances enable a purchase of agricultural conservation easement program.

37) Kendall County, IL: Local PACE Enabling Ordinance

This ordinance creates the Kendall County Agricultural Conservation Easement and Farmland Protection Program.

38) Peninsula Township, MI: Local PACE Enabling Ordinance

This law enables a local purchase of agricultural conservation easement program.

39) Howard County, MD: Local PACE Enabling Ordinances

This law enables a purchase of agricultural conservation easements program.

40) Montgomery County, MD: Local PACE Enabling Ordinances

This law enables a purchase of agricultural conservation easements program.

41) Dunn, WI: PACE Pre-Application Form

This is the pre-application form for the Dunn, Wisconsin purchase of agricultural easement program.

42) Dakota County, MN: PACE Pre-Application Form

Pre-Application form for Dakota County, Minnesota purchase of agricultural conservation easement program.

43) Dakota County, MN: PACE Application

Application form for Dakota County, MN purchase of agricultural conservation easement program.

44) Frederick County, MD: PACE Application Form (IPA)

Application form for Frederick County, Maryland Installment Purchase Agreement (IPA) Program.

45) Dunn, WI: Model Easement

A model easement used by Dunn, Wisconsin's purchase of agricultural conservation easement program.

46) Dakota County, MN: Model Easement

A model easement used by the Dakota County, Minnesota purchase of agricultural conservation easement program.

47) Harford County, MD: Model Easement

A model easement used by the Harford County, Maryland purchase of agricultural conservation easements program. This easement is specific to Harford County's installment purchase agreement payment structure.

48) Dunn, WI: PACE Ranking Criteria

PACE program ranking criteria used by the Town of Dunn, Wisconsin.

49) Clarke County, VA: PACE Ranking Criteria

PACE program ranking criteria used by the Clarke County, Virginia purchase of agricultural conservation easements program.

50) Land Evaluation and Site Assessment

Land Evaluation and Site Assessment (LESA) is a numeric rating system created by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to evaluate a parcel’s relative agricultural importance.

51) Using LESA in a Purchase of Development Rights Program

A well-designed Land Evaluation and Site Assessment (LESA) system can help public officials, with limited funds, acquire development rights to build a "critical mass" of preserved farmland.