Thank you for considering an APR on your farmland. Submitting an application does not obligate you to complete an APR, nor does it guarantee that the Commonwealth will purchase an APR on your land. Please note that the basic thresholds for APR eligibility are 1.) you have at least 5 open acres of agricultural land, and 2.) the land has been in active agricultural use for at least the past three years. If you are interested in applying to sell an APR on your farm land, please complete the following steps:
- Make an appointment to visit your county USDA-NRCS office to review maps of your property and request a copy of an APR Soils Packet. It is important that the entire farm property is delineated as well as the land which will be included in the application, if different. Existing houses, commercial non-agricultural structures and areas that you know for certain will be used for personal/non-agricultural use in the future (ex. House lots for children) must be excluded from APR consideration. However, commercial agricultural structures may be included at the owner’s option. If you are uncertain about possible exclusions, please ask NRCS to map the entire farm and be prepared to discuss exclusion scenarios with your APR Field Representative during the site visit (further explained below).
- Download and complete the APR Application , sign (all owners of record) and mail it along with the NRCS APR Soils Packet to:
Dorothy Du, APR Program
Mass Department of Agricultural Resources
251 Causeway Street, Suite 500
Boston, MA 02114
Once your application is received in the Boston office, you will be contacted by an APR Field Representative who will make an appointment to meet with you at the site to go over the details of the Program, ask you some questions about the land and your farming operation, and walk the property to get a look at the productive fields. In order to help expedite the process, if you have prepared any of the following items, or had one prepared by an outside agency for you, please make sure you have them available for review on the day of the field inspection. These documents may help to increase your application’s score during the ranking stage, so it is important that the Field Representative have a chance to review them during the visit.
- USDA-NRCS Conservation Plan
- Forest Management Plan
- Succession Plan for the property
- Lease Agreements covering the land proposed for restriction
- Fertilization/Reseeding Schedule
In addition, due to limitations on the amount of non-productive land that can be included in the APR, it is often necessary to exclude portions of woodland, wetland or open land that does not contain productive agricultural soils. Often times this “ineligible” land is back woodland that must be separated from the productive portion of the property along the frontage. In these cases, if the application progresses to the appraisal stage, only the eligible land will be appraised. However, if you accept the Commonwealth’s offer for an APR on the farm, you will have the option of including the ineligible land in the restriction (without being reimbursed for any potential value), or excluding the ineligible land from the APR. If the excluded parcel is landlocked, it may be necessary to exclude an access strip from the legal frontage as well. The issue of ineligible land will be discussed during your visit with the APR Field Representative, but you may want to discuss the possibility with family members prior to the visit.
And finally, it is important to understand that the APR application process is lengthy and can change at any time due to funding situations. All approved for funding will be scheduled to close in 2020, however it should be noted that all offers will be subject to future funding and ranking. Once an application is chosen to advance to the appraisal stage, the Commonwealth's offer is accepted, and the project is chosen to be funded by the USDA-NRCS Agricultural Lands Easement (ALE) Program, there are still many steps remaining in the process prior to closing including a title search, posting of legal notices, completion of USDA Farm Service Agency eligibility documents, preparation of perimeter survey, etc.
If you have any questions regarding the APR application process, please contact the appropriate APR Field Representative listed below:
Chris Chisholm – Eastern Mass and Hampshire County
Barbara Hopson – Berkshire and Hampden Counties
Michele Padula – Worcester and Franklin Counties