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Frequently Asked Questions:

What is a conservation easement, and what impact does it have on land value?

The restriction of the development rights, also called “conservation easements,”  “agricultural conservation easements,” or “conservation restrictions,” can have a significant influence on the final purchase price of a farm property. By removing forever the right to develop the property for anything but agriculture, a conservation easement can reduce the selling price of a farm by as much as half from the “fair market value.” In most of New England, a farm for sale on the open market will not be listed at its agricultural value unless there is a conservation easement in place. The farm property will be listed for sale at its “highest use,” which in most cases is for commercial, residential or industrial development. This means that the asking price for a farm will generally be higher than what a farmer living solely on farm income can afford.  (To learn more about conservation easements, check out the “Financial Assessment” and “Community Partners” Lessons in our Acquiring Your Farm online tutorial.)

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