More farmland is permanently protected in Maryland than in any other state in the nation. Despite this success, the state is losing farmland faster than it is saving it. The diminishing farmland base is weakening the state’s ability to produce food, protect the environment and the Chesapeake Bay, strengthen the economy and provide a quality of life that has defined regions of the state for centuries.
The dramatic loss of farmland in Maryland is due in part to the lack of a plan that identifies the highest priority farmland and what mix of farmland protection techniques are needed to more effectively protect that land. Such plans are rare throughout the country because many citizens lack a good understanding of land resources in their communities. The lack of citizen support often results in limited funding, political will and planning resources for farmland protection.
Through a consensus-building process, the Chesapeake Farms for the Future Board developed the essential tools for creating an effective farmland protection plan for Maryland. Created in 1995 as part of the Future Harvest Project, the CFFB is a diverse group of farmers and nonfarmers who are committed to strengthening the state’s agricultural industry and protecting the environment. The tools are a series of maps, a model farmland protection program and a cooperative assessment.