Agricultural Preservation


Joy Levy, Program Administrator | 410-313-5407

Mitch Ford, Monitoring & Stewardship Planning Technician | 410-313-5407

Recent News

Since the opening of the current Howard County Agricultural Land Preservation Program (ALPP) acquisition cycle in 2013, the County has permanently protected 11 properties by purchasing their development rights, for a total of 656 acres. In addition, the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation (MALPF) purchased one 71-acre easement. As of August 2016, Howard County’s farmland preservation amounts to a grand total of 22,349 acres. 









Ellicott City















West Friendship



Ellicott City



West Friendship



West Friendship








PreservationMapClick on the Interactive Map above to view different types of land preservation in Howard County!

Howard County Agricultural Land Preservation Program (ALPP)

About the ALPP

Howard County has been in the forefront of protecting farmland for several decades using three different methods:
1) Since 1984, the purchase of agricultural preservation easements by the Howard County Agricultural Land Preservation Program (ALPP Purchased),
2) Since 1994, the dedication of agricultural preservation parcels to the Howard County Agricultural Land Preservation Program as provided for in the County’s Zoning Regulations (ALPP Dedicated), and
3) Since 1980, the purchase of agricultural preservation easements in Howard County by the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation (MALPF Purchased).

Using these tools, the County has preserved over 22,000 acres of farmland in the Rural West of Howard County over the last 35 years.

For application requirements and other information, please refer to the tabs below for ALPP Purchased Easements and County Dedicated Easements.

ALPP Purchased Easements

Through this voluntary program, a farmer whose land meets certain size and soil criteria can offer to sell a perpetual easement to the County, while holding fee simple title to the land and continuing to farm. The farm may be sold, but the easement, which restricts the development of the property, remains with the land and binds future owners.


When the ALPP announces an application period, any interested property owner whose farm meets the minimum eligibility criteria may apply. The ALPP utilizes an objective scoring system to determine the value of the farm as agricultural land. This score translates into a per acre price offer that the County is willing to pay for an easement on the property.

Overview | Application Form | Soil and Water Quality Plan Form | Application Processing Procedures | Eligibility Criteria and Pricing Formula

Useful Links

Green Infrastructure Network | Howard County Interactive MapMaryland Land Records | Maryland State Archives Plats SearchState Department of Assessments & Taxation |  Zoning Regulations of Howard County

Regulations & Policies

The primary regulatory framework for the ALPP is Section 15.500 of the Howard County Code. In addition to the laws that govern the program, there are many policies that implement its goals.

Forest Conservation | Lot Location | Nontidal Wetland Mitigation | Parcel Division |Permitted Uses | Road ROW Dedication | Tenant Houses | Soil Conservation and Water Quality Plans 

Procedures for Owners

In order for property owners to exercise the lot and dwelling rights they retain upon entering the ALPP purchased easement program, there are certain procedures that must be followed and forms to be filled out.


Owner/Child Lot Process | Unrestricted Lot Process | Letter of Intent | Letter of Understanding/Owner Lot | Letter of Understanding/Child Lot | Tenant House Application 

County Dedicated Easements

As provided for in the Zoning Regulations, land may be dedicated to the ALPP as a result of:

1) The creation of cluster subdivision residue preservation parcels

2) The creation of Density Exchange Option (DEO) sending preservation parcels

The ALPP is the sole easement holder of the dedicated easements, though no county funds are used to acquire them. The creation of dedicated preservation parcels arise out of private market transactions between the farmer and a developer. Like the ALPP purchased easements, the restrictions against development remain with the land and bind all future owners.

Density/Cluster Exchange Option | Application Form | Soil Conservation Form

Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation (MALPF)


In addition to easements purchased by the Howard County ALPP, the Maryland Agricultural Preservation Foundation (MALPF) program also purchases agricultural easements, and has acquired almost 4,000 easement acres in Howard County. The MALPF program is administered locally, which means that any questions or requests pertaining to MALPF properties should be directed to Joy Levy.

Official Website

For detailed information about the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation (MALPF), please visit the state website by clicking here.

Easement Termination Information

 MALPF easements established prior to 2004 allow a property owner to petition to buy back their development rights from the State after 25 years. In order to terminate an easement, it must be demonstrated that profitable farming is no longer feasible on the property.

Both MALPF and the County's governing body must approve the owner's request. While MALPF's review is focused on economic feasibility, the County's review is focused on local land use priorities, including consistency with comprehensive planning goals and impacts to vicinal properties. 

Over 22,000 acres in Howard County are protected by an agricultural easement, however;  only 3,960 are MALPF easement properties and are therefore potentially eligible to terminate. The other 17,690 acres are county easements and are not eligible to terminate. The documents below provide additional details regarding termination of MALPF easements.

Termination Policy | MALPF Process Flowchart  | MALP Termination FAQ's 

​Howard County Agricultural Land Preservation Board (ALPB)

The Agricultural Land Preservation Board (ALPB) makes recommendations to the County Executive on the acquisition of new agricultural land preservation easement properties, reviews proposals concerning land already subject to an easement and assists ALPP staff with policy creation and refinement. For questions about the Agricultural Land Preservation Board (ALPB), please contact Joy Levy, Executive Secretary, or Mitch Ford, Planning Technician by calling 410-313-5407.

For information on the current Meeting Agenda, Board Members, Schedule of Meetings, Meeting Location and Directions, Meeting Minutes, and the Rules of Procedure, please visit the  Agricultural Land Preservation Board page
Agricultural Community Resources

The ALPP works closely with other agencies within the County to provide support to the agricultural community. Follow the links below for more information on the Agricultural Marketing Program within the Howard County Economic Development Authority (HCEDA), the University of Maryland Extension, and the Howard Soil Conservation District.

HCEDA Agricultural Marketing ProgramUniversity of Maryland ExtensionHoward Soil Conservation District 

Additional Links

Environmental Planning | Farmers Markets | Farm-to-Table Restaurants | Find a Farm | Historic PreservationHoward County Conservancy | Howard County Farm Bureau | Howard County FairgroundsLiving Farm Heritage Museum | Live Green Howard | Roving Radish 

Farmland Forever Signs

Farmland Forever signs are available to property owners in the ALPP. If you would like to show your pride in preservation, please complete and return the form to Joy Levy, ALPP Administrator at 3430 Court House Drive, Ellicott City, MD 21043. The County will construct the sign post and install the sign. There is no cost to program participants for the sign or installation.

Order Form | Sample Sign