How an Easement Works

easementIn brief, here’s how the easement works: An appraiser determines both the agricultural and development values of the farm. E.g. the ag value may be $150,000, and the development value may be $350,000. A land trust purchases an easement from the farmer for the amount of the development value. The easement language states that the farm cannot be developed for non-agricultural purposes and that is must be farmed using sustainable methods, the farmer(s) need(s) to live on the farm, and the farmer(s) need(s) to earn at least 50% of their income from the farm. The original farmer(s) who sell the easement to the land trust receive(s) the value of the easement as their “retirement” fund. The land trust holds and monitors the easement in perpetuity to assure that subsequent farmers honor its restrictions. When the farm is then sold it is sold for the remaining $150,000 ag value, making it affordable for the next farmer(s). By permanently removing the development value of the farm, the farm becomes permanently affordable at its ag value to all future farmers. One Farm at a Time will not have any further involvement with the easement and can move onto trying to preserve another farm.