Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation Program

The Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation (MALPF), in existence since 1977, is one of the most successful programs of its kind in the country. Its primary purpose is to preserve sufficient agricultural land in order to maintain a viable local base of food and fiber production for the present and future citizens of Maryland.

What is it?
MALPF is a purchase of development rights program whereby the State purchases and retires the development rights from qualifying farms. The program is completely voluntary on the part of landowners and is dependent upon the cooperation of local governments. The program is administered at the county level through a Program Administrator and local Agricultural Preservation Advisory Board. The local Board reviews and makes recommendations on all applications related to the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Program. These include applications to establish agricultural preservation districts, to sell permanent protective easements to the Foundation, create lot exclusions and subdivide properties in the preservation program. The Board also establishes policies for ranking districts in the easement purchase program. Staff for the Board is provided by the Department of Planning and Zoning.

Who is on the Agricultural Preservation Advisory Board?
The Board is appointed for 5 year terms by the County Commissioners and the appointed members elect their chairman. Meetings are held when necessary. The current Board is as follows:


Jennifer Debnam Chairman
Davidson Coleman Member
Brian McDonald Member
Ernest "Tot" Strong Member
George Wiedenmayer Member


The planning office advises and serves the Board by setting the agenda, taking minutes and maintaining records of the activities of the Board. It is the responsibility of the planning office to:

  • Promote participation in the program by local landowners;
  • Assist property owners through the process including assistance with applications;
  • Advise the Board, the Planning Commission, the County Commissioners, and the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation of the appropriateness of each application;
  • Act as liaison with the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation;
  • Monitor on a yearly basis easement properties for compliance with the easement agreement; and
  • Maintain an official map of all Agricultural Land Preservation Districts and Easements.

How can I participate?
The program is comprised of two steps. The first step is to create an Agricultural Preservation District. In order to be considered, a farm must be a minimum of 50 acres or contiguous to other protected lands and at least 50% of the soils must be Capability Class I, II or III or Woodland Group 1 or 2. Once a District is formed, the owner can apply to sell an easement. Easement applications are accepted once a year. For more information, check out the Foundation’s website at or call the planning office.