Agricultural Land Preservation

Aerial view of agricultural land in Erie County

Erie County’s Agricultural Land Preservation Program protects viable agricultural land in Erie County by protecting farming operations and offering financial incentives to landowners to make a long-term commitment to agriculture. The program acquires Agricultural Conservation Easements on properties and encourages the formation of Agricultural Security Areas in municipalities.

Agricultural Conservation Easements

Erie County uses federal, state and county funds to purchase Agricultural Conservation Easements on properties across the county, restricting development on these parcels and permanently preserving them for agricultural use. Landowners retain private ownership of the property and may still use, lease or sell the property, though any new owner must abide by the terms of the easement.

As of February 2022, Erie County has preserved 80 farms in 15 municipalities, for a total of 9,565 acres.

Eligible landowners may apply for the program, with applications accepted June 1 through September 30 in even-numbered years. The number of farms selected in each application cycle is based on available funding. The application and selection process is overseen by the Erie County Agricultural Land Preservation Board.

How to Apply

To apply for an Agricultural Conservation Easement:

Agricultural Security Areas

Agricultural Security Areas (ASAs) have been established by 19 municipalities across Erie County in order to encourage, promote, preserve and protect normal farming operations.

About Agricultural Security Areas:

  • An ASA is an area within one or more municipalities, consisting of at least 250 acres owned by one or more persons.
  • Normal agricultural activities are exempt from local nuisance ordinances (such as those that involve noise, dust, or odors).
  • Limitations are placed on condemnation and eminent domain.
  • Hazardous waste treatment or storage facilities are not permitted.
  • Parcels enrolled must be engaged in the production of crops, livestock or livestock products.

Inclusion in an ASA is voluntary, and landowners may enroll their properties in or remove their properties from an ASA at any time. Municipalities must review their ASAs every seven years, removing any parcels that are no longer in active agriculture. The municipality may not include parcels within an ASA without the consent of the landowner.

To date, 19 municipalities in Erie County, including 18 townships and one rural borough, have established ASAs, containing slightly more than 75,000 acres.