In Michigan, due to the expanding population, our desirable natural attractions for tourism, commercial and industrial development, the conversion of essential agricultural and open space lands to more intensive use has become alarmingly high. To help alleviate this rapid and premature conversion of lands uniquely suited for agriculture to more intensive use, Public Act 116 of 1974, the "Farmland and Open Space Preservation Act," and subsequent "Purchase of Development Rights Program (PDR), Part 361 of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act," are available to preserve farmland.
In general, PA 116 allows agricultural landowners to develop an agreement with the State of Michigan to keep land in farming for a minimum of 10 years. The PDR program allows the development rights for land to be purchased by the State, to keep the land in agricultural production forever. For more detailed information on either program, visit the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development, Farmland and Open Space Preservation Program site.
- An explanation of Purchase of Development Rights (PDR)
- An explanation of Transfer of Development Rights (TDR)
Another excellent way currently available to preserve land is the establishment of Conservation Easements, and donations of land to non-profit land trust organizations. In Washtenaw County, the Legacy Land Conservancy can work with landowners in and around the County to help preserve farmland and other environmentally sensitive lands.
For more information on Conservation Easements and donating land to the Legacy Land Conservancy, contact:
Legacy Land Conservancy
1100 N. Main Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Phone: (734) 302-5263
Other sources of information on farmland preservation and agricultural/rural disputes are:
American Farmland Trust
Founded in 1980 by a group of farmers and conservationists concerned about the rapid loss of the nation's farmland to development, American Farmland Trust (AFT) is a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to protecting our nation's strategic agricultural resources.
Working with farmers and ranchers, political leaders and community activists, AFT has helped to permanently protect more than a million acres of America's best farm and ranch land.
AFT has four key strategies for saving the land that sustains us:
- Transform U.S. farm policy to strengthen the future of American agriculture;
- Protect the best land by supporting effective state and local farmland protection initiatives;
- Plan for agriculture to keep farming viable and help communities balance growth while protecting working land;
- Keep the land healthy and productive by encouraging stewardship practices that safeguard our nation's natural resources.
For more information about, and to contact AFT visit their web site.
Michigan Agricultural Mediation Program
The Michigan Agricultural Mediation Program (MAMP) provides mediation services when issues arise between agricultural producers and USDA agencies over agricultural loans, agricultural credit, wetland determinations, compliance with farm programs including conservation programs, crop insurance, pesticides, rural development loans, and other agriculture-related topics deemed appropriate by USDA.
For more information about, and to contact MAMP visit their web site.
Benefits of Mediation
The mediation process provides a non-threatening, informal procedure as an initial step in resolving conflicts. Mediation provides the following benefits:
- Participants control the outcome. The people involved in the situation are the ones who create an agreement that works for them.
- Mediation is confidential. The parties can speak openly and directly to each other and to the issues, without the proceedings being a matter of public record.
- Mediation can preserve relationships. Mediation can help to build a framework for future interaction based upon mutual interests and needs rather than adversarial positions.
- Mediation is flexible and creative. Mediation can be used to discuss creative and individualized solutions. The parties can make virtually any agreement so long as it is not contrary to the law.
- Mediation is quick. Disputes are normally resolved within a matter of weeks, allowing the parties to maintain schedules and lines of credit.
- Mediation saves money. Mediation provides a low-cost alternative to litigation. Under the Michigan Agricultural Mediation Program, mediation services are free-of-charge.
- Mediation is likely to be successful. In the majority of disputes taken to mediation, parties reach an agreement.