Thank you for considering an APR on your farmland. 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 acres of agricultural land, and 2.) the land has been in active commercial agricultural use for at least the past two years. There are other criteria that are considered when reviewing and scoring an application, but these two eligibility requirements must be met for a project to advance to the evaluation stage.
The program accepts applications on a rolling basis. Projects are evaluated on a quarterly basis and are advance subject to available funding. Enrolling your land into APR is a significant decision and process that takes careful thought, planning and time. It can take up to one year for a project to receive all state and federal approvals to proceed, and then another 1 to 2 years to close, so you are highly encouraged to start the planning and application process as early as possible.
Complete information can be found in the APR Program Guide. Application instructions below.
APR Program staff are available to discuss applications year-round. See staff listing at the bottom of this page.
If you are interested in applying to sell or donate an APR on your farmland, please complete the following steps:
- Download and complete the APR Application - Word | PDF, sign (all owners of record) and mail it along with maps and supporting documents to:
Dorothy Du, APR Program
Mass Department of Agricultural Resources
225 Turnpike Road
Southborough, MA 01772
Required Maps consists of:
- An aerial photo map showing boundaries of all of your property (tax parcel boundaries). Please also indicate the areas proposed to be included in APR and left out (excluded) areas. Also identify any differences in ownership amongst the parcels.
- A soils map showing property and APR boundaries and prime, statewide, and locally important farmland soils. Include calculations of % soils compared to total acres.
- A land use map showing boundaries and open active agricultural land use and/ or woods.
- USGS topographic map showing property and APR boundaries.
- Any existing full boundary survey (if known).
There is an online mapping tool, Mass Mapper, which is available to the public for creating maps. Another online mapping tool is the USDA NRCS Web Soil Survey.. Other services for map making include your local USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service office or Land Trust Organizations. If you need assistance with an APR Map Packet, please contact your local APR Field Representative to help with a map specific to the APR program.
On all the maps, it is important that you outline all your land including the land being considered to enroll into the APR program. Existing houses, commercial non-agricultural structures, and areas that you know for certain will be used for personal/non-agricultural use in the future (example: 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 your Local APR Field Representative.
Any additional maps that you may feel helpful may also be included (wildlife and wetland maps, aquifer and water resource maps, public trail maps, etc.) This non-agriculturally related information helps staff determine if APR is the best fit for your goals or if another conservation program may be a better option.
Deeds: Due to the COVID-19, some registry of deeds offices may not be open for the public. If landowners applying to the APR Program are unable to obtain a copy of their property deeds for all of the proposed APR parcels, they may provide the information under "Section 4: Registry of Deeds Information" of the APR application on page 3. MDAR staff will download the deed documents online. If a deed is provided and the entire property is not intended to be placed under an APR, please identify the specific parcels for APR consideration.
After Application is Submitted
Once your application is received in the Southborough 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 evaluation, 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
It may be necessary to exclude portions of woodland, wetland or open land that does not contain productive agricultural soils. This 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 while the program aims to complete projects approved for funding within a two-year window (depending upon when the application is received in the cycle), this timeframe may change based on project complexity and other factors. For example, if an application is chosen to advance to the appraisal stage and you accept the Commonwealth’s offer, most projects are then required to be considered for funding by the USDA-NRCS Agricultural Lands Easement (ALE) Program. After which, there are many steps remaining in the process prior to closing including clearing title, a hazardous waste review, posting of legal notices, preparation of perimeter survey, preparation of a Baseline Documentation Report, and obtaining final approvals from the State and NRCS.
If you have any questions, please contact your APR Field Representative listed below:
Essex & Middlesex Counties, Westport & Dartmouth, and Hampshire County
APR Program Coordinator
Northern Worcester, Franklin, and Northern Berkshire Counties
Southeastern MA, Southern Worcester County, Hampden County, and Southern Berkshire County