ACE Program Overview
ACE Program Overview
The Berks County Agricultural Land Preservation Board oversees the Berks County Agricultural Conservation Easement (ACE) Program through the staff of the Berks County Department of Agriculture Office. The Berks County ACE Program is a funded largely by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the County of Berks, used to purchase agricultural conservation easements in perpetuity. Easements prevent the development of the lands for any other purpose other than agricultural production. Permanently preserving large clusters of farms helps ensure the future of agriculture in Berks County.
Landowners submit applications to the Berks County Department of Agriculture Office on a voluntary basis by December 31st of any given year. Applications must meet minimum criteria. Each year, after the deadline, all applications that meet the minimum criteria are scored and ranked according to the Land Evaluation and Site Assessment (LESA) ranking system. Points are awarded based on soil quality and site factors designed to evaluate development pressures, productivity of a farm, and the ability to create clusters of protected farmland. Applications are selected for the program based on the ranking order and the amount of available funding. Townships may participate along with the County and the State in the Berks County ACE Program.
Funding for the ACE Program is typically allocated on a yearly basis. The State and County compensate landowners at the settlement of the agricultural conservation easement based on appraisal values and maximum payments per acre. The easements are legal documents restricting the land to agricultural production and are recorded at the Berks County Recorder of Deeds Office. The easements remain with the farm as the property changes ownership, and the terms must be attached to any future property deeds, thereby protecting the land in perpetuity. Inspections are conducted at least biennially to ensure compliance with the deed of easement.
Additional information includes: the Program Guidelines, an application form, and a sample deed of agricultural conservation easement. Please contact the Berks County Department of Agriculture Office at: Berks County Agricultural Center, 1238 County Welfare Road, Suite 260, Leesport, Pennsylvania, 19533 or call (610) 378-1844 if you have questions or would like printed copies of the materials.