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Farm King County
Preserving Farmland

Preserving Farmland

Farmland is a precious and disappearing resource. King County has led the way in developing a Farmland Preservation Program and Transfer of Development Rights Program that enable the preservation of farmland. Similarly, private non-profits preserve farmland and offer services that can aid in keeping farmland in production. Find information below about how to work with private conservation organizations and public agencies to preserve your farmland for future generations.


Farmland Preservation Programs and Farmland Trusts

King County Farmland Preservation Program (FPP) has protected nearly 14,000 acres of farmland in King County since 1979. Benefits to farmers are a long-term farmable land base at a more affordable rate for lease or sale. The program is voluntary and allows private property owners to sell their development rights on high quality farmland to King County. In selling the development rights to their property, owners allow restrictive covenants to be placed on it which limit the property's use and development to agriculture or open space uses. This helps to keep farmland affordable and in farming. Contact the program if you are interested in selling development rights or accessing land.

Growing Things Golden chard in field
Rainbow chard grown on a farm protected by PCC Farmland Trust - Photo: Zachary D. Lyons

King County Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) Program is a voluntary, incentive-based, and market-driven approach to preserve farmland. However, development rights from farmland protected by TDR are transferred rather than being extinguished. After farmland is permanently protected and Transferable Development Rights are "created," developers in urban areas can buy the TDRs and apply them to projects for bonus density of their projects. Proceeds from the sale of TDRs to developers are then used to protect more land. An agreement between King County and Seattle provides an excellent example of how TDR can protect farmland: recent TDR sales to South Lake Union development projects have resulted in more than $3 million of revenue which is being used to preserve additional King County farmland through the King County Farmland Preservation Program.

American Farmland Trust works locally and nationally to save farm and ranch land by advocating for farmland protection, promoting sound farming practices, and working to keep farmers on the land.

PCC Farmland Trust is a nonprofit land trust that protects and stewards threatened farmland in Washington. They work to keep land in production by making it accessible to future generations of farmers. Learn more about how they conserve farmland or check out their farmland matching project Farm to Farmer.


Finding Farmland

Finding Farmland: A Farmer's Guide to Working with Land Trusts is published by the National Young Farmers Coalition. The guide gives an introduction to land trusts, explains how these groups can be powerful partners in a farmer’s search for affordable farmland, and provides detailed information about the process of working with a land trust.

Steel Wheel Casey Ryan in field
Casey and Ryan of Steel Wheel Farm - Photo: Zachary D. Lyons

Succession Planning


Vermont Land Trust: Access to Affordable Farmland

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