Farmland Conservation

  • Agriculture plays a major role in shaping Vermont's economy, landscape, and rural character. The Vermont Farmland Conservation Program is focused on retaining the state’s quality agricultural land base in strong farming regions of the state. Because of the Board's investment in conservation easements, matched by funding from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, some of Vermont's most productive farmland will remain undeveloped and available for farming in the future.

    Since 1987, more 164,000 acres of agricultural land on 700 farms have been conserved with VHCB funds matched with federal funds from the Farm Bill provided through the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Proceeds from the sale of development rights has contributed to renewed vitality in agriculture, enabling young farmers to purchase farms at an affordable price and helping established farmers to reduce long-term debt, to invest in infrastructure, to make operations more profitable and efficient or to retire. At the same time that some larger dairy farms have consolidated, smaller farms are becoming stronger through diversification, by producing for specialty markets, and by minimizing costs of production. By focusing on conserving contiguous blocks of farmland in traditional farming communities, VHCB’s Farmland Conservation Program helps to ensure that farms are not isolated by residential development and communities can continue to support a healthy range of businesses that serve and rely on neighboring farms.

    VHCB relies on partners such as the Vermont Land Trust and the Upper Valley Land Trust to work directly with farmers interested in conserving their land. VHCB's Farm & Forest Viability Program provides business planning and technical assistance to farm and food, forestry and forest products businesses. The Vermont Land Trust's Farmland Access Program connects farmers with affordable farmland, often matching younger farmers to conserved land to lower acquisition costs.   

Stories from our work

Marc and Tiffany Marquis have protected two parcels of farmland in the Mississquoi watershed

Marquis Farm, Newport