Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) Program Details

Learn more about the program requirements, resources, policies, and guidelines

Overview

It is essential to keep the agricultural industry in Massachusetts thriving. The APR Program helps to preserve and protect agricultural land to keep valuable farmland soil from being built on by development companies for non-agricultural purposes that could be detrimental to the environment. The program offers to pay farmland owners the difference between the "fair market value" and the "agricultural value" of their farms in exchange for a permanent deed restriction which precludes any use of the property that will have a negative impact on its agricultural viability.

It is a voluntary program which offers a non-development alternative to farmers who are faced with a decision regarding future use of their farms. The main objective of the APR program is to protect productive farmland through the purchase of deed restrictions and revitalize the agricultural industry by making land more affordable to farmers and their operations more financially secure.

Additional Resources for

Proposed APR Regulations - March 2019

The Department is proposing changes to address the transfer and sale of a parcel protected by an APR.

Proposed regulations and redline comparison:

330 CMR 22:00 Proposed Regulations

330 CMR 22:00 Redline

The revised regulations will provide APR landowners with a clearer understanding of their requirements at the time of transfer, the Department's process for review and their rights to withdraw and appeal the Department’s decision.

Program Criteria and Eligibility

Landowners with at least five-acres of land in agricultural production for the last two years, with suitable soils.

Primary Requirements:

  1. Farm must be at least five (5) acres in size.
  2. Land has to have been actively devoted to agriculture for the two (2) immediately preceding tax years.
  3. Farm must produce at least $500 in gross sales per year for the first five acres plus $5 for each additional acre or 50 cents per each additional acre of woodland and/or wetland.

Other criteria considered:

  1. Suitability and productivity of land for agricultural use based on soil classification, physical features, and location.
  2. The degree of threat to the continuation of agriculture on the land due to circumstances such as owner's death, retirement, financial positions, development pressure, or insecurity due to rental agreements.
  3. The size or composition of the land that determines if it is  economically viable for agricultural purposes, and the likelihood that it will remain in agriculture in the future.

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