The Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (the VHCB) manages Vermont’s Farmland Conservation Program. The goal of this program is to conserve quality agricultural land through the purchase of development rights, and ensure this land is available for farming in the future. The Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (the Agency) co holds conservation easements with VHCB, and the Vermont Land Trust and Upper Valley Land Trust. As well, the Agency has a seat at the table when the VHCB approves farmland conservation applications, develops policy and guidance that affects conserved farmland, and shares in the responsibility of steward the easement.
The Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets’ involvement in Act 250 criterion 9(B) review before the state’s District Commissions has the potential to mitigate for a loss farmland via two methods: onsite mitigation and offsite mitigation. In instances of development on “primary agricultural soils that qualify for offsite mitigation,” a payment is made into the Housing and Conservation Board Trust Fund, which partially funds the VHCB Farmland Conservation program.