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What is an agricultural security area?

Published February 16. 2013 09:03AM

Agricultural security areas are intended to promote more permanent and viable farming operations over the long term by strengthening the farming community's sense of security in land use and the right to farm. Agricultural security areas are created by local municipalities in cooperation with individual landowners who agree to collectively place at least 250 acres in an agricultural security area.

Landowner Benefits

Agricultural security areas provide three main benefits to landowners:

1. Municipalities agree to support agriculture by not passing nuisance ordinances which would restrict normal farming operations.

2. Limitations are placed on the ability of government to condemn farmland located in an agricultural security area for new schools, highways, parks, or other governmental projects.

3. Landowners who are part of a 500 acre or larger agricultural security area may be eligible to apply to sell a perpetual agricultural conservation easement (or their development rights) through their local Agricultural Land Preservation Program.

Having land enrolled in an agricultural security area does not restrict a landowner's ability to use his or her property for non-agricultural development purposes.

Eligible Property

1. Noncontiguous farm parcels must be at least 10 acres in size. The farm tracts needed to create a new 250 acre or larger agricultural security area do not have to be under the same ownership or even be located in the same municipality. The Agricultural Area Security Law (Act 43 of 1981) allows for the creation of joint municipality agricultural security areas.

2. The property should be viable agricultural land. Cropland, pasture, and woodland can all be included in an agricultural security area.

3. At least 50% of the land should be in Soil Capability Classes I-IV, as defined by the county soil survey.

4. The property must be zoned to permit agricultural uses.

Agricultural Security Area (ASA)Description

Bureau of Farmland Preservation

The Bureau administers the Agricultural Security Area, or ASA, program at the state level. ASAs are a tool for strengthening and protecting our quality farmland from the urbanization of rural areas.

It is voluntary for farmers/landowners. Petitions are submitted to township supervisors.

• They are reviewed every seven years however; new parcels of farmland may be added to an established ASA at any time.

• A minimum of 250 acres from among all the participating farmers is required.

• An ASA may include non-adjacent farmland parcels of at least ten acres or be able to produce $2000 annually from the sale of agricultural products.

• Participants receive special consideration regarding:

• Local ordinances affecting farming activities.

• Nuisance complaints.

• And review of farmland condemnation by state and local government agencies.

• An ASA qualifies land for consideration under the Easement Purchase Program at the landowner's request, if the ASA has at least 500 acres enrolled.

The benefits of enrollment are:

• Prerequisite for applying to the county farmland preservation program

• Protection against local nuisance ordinances related to farming activity

• Oversight in certain cases of eminent domain.

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