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Find Out How to Permanently Preserve Farmland

Indyk Farm, Monroe Township Preserved June 2014

Step 1: Landowner submits an Eligibility Determination Form.
Completion of the Eligibility Determination Form is only preliminary in nature and is subject to final determination of eligibility by the staff of the Middlesex County Agriculture Development Board (CADB) and the State Agriculture Development Committee (SADC), pursuant to the review of a more detailed application form and an onsite inspection of the property.
Step 2: Has the farm been identified on the County’s approved Planning Incentive Grant (PIG) application as a targeted farm and is located within an Agricultural Development Area (ADA)?
In addition to being located in an ADA, an eligible farm must have been identified on the County’s PIG application. If the farm has not been identified as a targeted farm in the County’s current PIG application, a landowner may petition that the CADB to include the farm on the list of targeted farms for the next round of PIG applications submitted to the SADC. In order to apply to program, one’s property must be located in an ADA. If the property is not within an ADA, a landowner may petition the Middlesex County Agriculture Development Board (CADB) to have the property designated in an ADA using an Agriculture Development Area Petition.
Step 3: A completed Application to Sell a Development Easement is submitted to the CADB for review.
If the farm qualifies for application submission under the first two steps, the landowner may then submit an “Application to Sell a Development Easement” to the CADB Administrator along with a $50.00 application fee.
Step 4: Does the farm meet the minimum criteria standards for participation in the farmland preservation program?
CADB Staff evaluates the application and supporting documentation against the SADC’s “Minimum Eligibility Criteria”. CADB staff also meets with the applicant to conduct a site visit and to discuss the information provided on the application. The municipality in which the farm is located must also submit a letter of support of the application.
Step 5: CADB Preliminary Approval
The application is placed on the CADB meeting agenda, at which time the application may be granted preliminary approval. CADB preliminary approval is contingent upon documented support from the municipality.
Step 6: County P.I.G. Application & “Green Light” Approval
If a farm is preliminarily approved by the CADB, then the landowner and CADB staff work together to complete and submit to the SADC a County Planning Incentive Grant (“P.I.G.”) Application. The SADC staff reviews the P.I.G. Application and all required attachments to determine if the property is an “Eligible Farm”. An "Eligible Farm" is a targeted farm that meets all of SADC’s minimum eligibility criteria and achieves an individual rank score that is equal to or greater than 70 percent of the county's average quality score of all farms granted preliminary approval by the SADC within the previous three fiscal years.
If the property is found to be an “Eligible Farm”, then the SADC grants a “Green Light” approval, which formally authorizes commencement of the property appraisal process. If the SADC determines that a farm fails to meet the 70 percent quality score threshold for qualification as an eligible farm, then the CADB has the discretion to request a waiver from the SADC of the minimum score criteria. If a waiver is applicable and granted, the appraisal process may begin.
Step 7: Appraisal Process and Certification of Appraised Value
Middlesex County retains appraisers to perform two independent appraisals and one review appraisal of the property. The CADB authorizes the submission of the appraisal reports to the SADC for their certification of a development easement value (on a per-acre basis). The development easement value is the difference between the unrestricted full value of the farm and the after-value as a preserved farm.
Step 8: Offer to Purchase the Development Rights
Once the SADC certifies a development easement value, the CADB makes an offer to purchase the development rights from the landowner. If the landowner accepts the certified value offer, the CADB requests final approval from the municipality. The County then grants final approval of the project and requests final SADC approval. Once final SADC approval has been received, the landowner and County proceed towards closing.
Step 9: Closing Process
The landowner and the County enter into a Contract for Sale. After the Contract for Sale is executed, a title search is completed. Once the title search is done, a survey of the property is prepared. When the survey is finalized, a closing date can be scheduled. The final total purchase price is based upon the final surveyed acreage and the per-acre purchase price of the development easement established between the County and the landowner.
Step 10: Stewardship
After a farm has been preserved, landowners should have a conservation plan created for their property. The CADB is also required to monitor farms by conducting annual farm inspections to ensure compliance with the terms of landowner’s Deed of Easement and must report their findings to the SADC once a year.
Eligibility Criterion For Participation In the Program 
In order to be eligible for the farmland preservation program, a farmland assessed property must first meet the programmatic location requirements. The property must also be located within an adopted Agricultural Development Area (ADA); landowners whose properties are not currently located in an approved ADA may submit an ADA petition to the CADB to amend the official ADA.  The property must also be listed on the County’s current Targeted Farm List, which is updated annually with input from the municipalities. Eligible properties must also be located within one of the County’s five Project Areas; to see a map showing the current project areas click here.  
After satisfying these location requirements, the CADB Administrator will then work with an interested landowner to determine his or her eligibility based on the program’s minimum eligibility criteria, determined by the physical characteristics of one’s property.
The table below simplifies these minimum eligibility criterion:
​Minimum Eligibility Criteria ​Farms Less than or Equal to 10 acres Farms Greater than 10 acres​
​I. Minimum Value of Annual Agrcultural or Horticultural Production: ​$2,500 per year (documentation must be included with an application) ​No requirement
II. Minimum "Tillable" Acres:​ ​At least 75% of the land or 5 acres, whichever is less ​At least 50% of the land or 25 acres, whichever is less
III. Minimum Acreage of Soils Capable of Supporting Agricultural or Horticultural Production:​ ​At least 75% of the land or 5 acres, whichever is less ​At least 50% of the land or 25 acres, whichever is less
​IV. Development Potential ​Required ​Required
(1) Maximum Acreage of Freshwater Wetlands:​ ​No more than 80% of the land ​No more than 80% of the land for lands less than 25 acres; No requirement for lands > 25 acres
​(2) Maximum Acreage of Steep Slope Areas (i.e. slopes > 15 percent as per current version of USDA Soil Survey): ​No more than 80% of the land ​No more than 80% of the land for lands less than 25 acres; No requirement for lands > 25 acres
​(3) Zoning - General: ​ ​The municipal zoning ordinance for the land as it is being appraised must allow additional development, and in the case of residential zoning, at least one additional residential site beyond that which will potentially exist on the premises.
​(4) Access for Additional Development: ​Where additional development of the land depends on the potential to provide access, the municipal zoning ordinances allowing further subdivision of the land must be verified in writing by the municipal zoning officer or planner. If access is only available by means of an easement, then the easement must specify that further subdivision of the land is possible.
​V. Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) Eligibility: ​If the land is eligible for the allocation of development credits pursuant to a TDR program authorized and duly adopted by law, then none of the above requirements will apply to the application.
Related Links


Office of Planning
Division of Comprehensive Planning and the Environment
County Administration Building
5th Floor
75 Bayard Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
Phone: 732-745-4014
Fax: 732-745-8443
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