Howard County Executive Calvin Ball pre-filed legislation, co-sponsored by David Yungmann, District 5 Councilmember, amending the purchase price formula used to determine the price that Howard County pays when purchasing development rights under the Agricultural Land Preservation Program. The Howard County Agricultural Preservation Board (APB) proposed amendments to the purchase price formula specifying point changes for parcel size, zoning, soil conservation, road frontage and more.

“The Agricultural Preservation Board has identified changes that would better serve our residents and help bolster the Ag Preservation Program,” said Ball. “The amendments to the pricing formula will allow for landowners to receive a fair price for their development rights, and overall reflects current agricultural best management practices and the realities of today’s market.”

The proposed amendments also encourage and award ongoing stewardship and conservation practices and assigns weight to such factors as soil capability and productively, size, proximity to other preserved land, and contribution to agricultural sustainability and the agricultural economy. The proposed amendments also provide discretionary points to be assigned by the Agricultural Preservation Board, a resident board consisting of Howard County residents with expertise in agricultural practices and policies.

“Agriculture activities have changed to some degree over the past seven years, and the board felt the scoring sheet update could more accurately serve the current landowners considering coming into the program,” said Mickey Day, chair of the Agriculture Preservation Board. “The average size of remaining parcels that could potentially be preserved through the agriculture preservation program is forty acres, and these parcels still have a great ability to be farmed. We took into consideration landowners who want to be involved in farming or continue a long-standing family farm, and those who want to acquire land to start an operation.”