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200 Farms to Compete for State Farmland Preservation Funding
For Immediate Release: MAy 4, 2000 Contact:

Hope Gruzlovic


The State Agriculture Development Committee (SADC) will open sealed bids from up to 200 landowners -- determining which farms will be eligible for state farmland preservation funding -- on Monday, May 8th, at 1:30 p.m. at the N.J. Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency building in Trenton, Agriculture Secretary Art Brown, Jr., announced today. Brown is chair of the SADC. The bid opening -- which will reveal landowners' asking prices for the sale of their development rights -- is the final step in determining which farms will be eligible for preservation under the first round of the SADC's county easement purchase program this year. "The 200 farms in this round -- totaling nearly 18,000 acres -- represent the single largest round of applications ever considered by the SADC," said Brown. "Thanks to increased funding from the Garden State Preservation Trust, we have a tremendous opportunity to bolster New Jersey's legacy of preserved farmland." "Farmland preservation is vitally important to sustaining both our agricultural industry and an overall high quality of life for every resident of the state," said Governor Whitman. "I join all New Jerseyans who are looking forward to the assurance that farmland in their communities will continue to be green and productive." Under its county easement purchase program, the SADC provides counties with grants to fund 60-80 percent of the purchase of development rights on farms. To determine which of the 200 farms will receive highest priority for preservation funding, the SADC calculated a quality score for each farm based on how well it met specific criteria for agricultural productivity and likelihood of development. Scores were used to compile a preliminary ranking of all of the applicant farms for this funding round. As part of a separate process, the SADC certified development values for each farm based on the recommendations of two independent appraisers and a third SADC review appraiser. The certified value is the fair-market value for the development rights and the maximum price on which the State is willing to cost-share. By noon on Monday, each landowner is required to submit a sealed bid stating his or her final asking price. Under a discounting process, landowners who offer to sell below certified value can move their farms higher on the ranking list. For every one percent a landowner discounts, two points will be added to the farm's quality score. As a result, the highest-ranked farms on the final list will be those that have the greatest agricultural potential and are the best value for taxpayer dollars. Over the past 10 years, the discounting process has resulted in savings of more than $25 million. The farms that are ranked highest following the discounting process are those that will receive the highest priority for preservation based on the $43.5 million in available funding. Monday's bid opening will result in the final rankings and the determination of which farms will be preserved. All projects are subject to county, SADC, Garden State Preservation Trust and legislative approvals.

The bid opening, which is open to the public, will take place in the board room of the N.J. Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency building at 637 South Clinton Ave., Trenton.