A Relative Efficiency Analysis of Farmland Preservation Programs

Lori Lynch and Wesley N. Musser


While agricultural land preservation programs seek to maximize the number of acres, to preserve productive farms, to preserve contiguous farms, and to preserve threatened farms, they are often evaluated solely on the number of acres preserved. Preserved parcels in four Maryland counties were evaluated to determine how well programs traded off the four goals using a Farrell efficiency analysis approach. Comparisons are made between the types of programs. Of the four objectives, parcel size and productivity measures were the most likely to affect the efficiency measures. In addition, purchase of development right programs were most successful in trading off objectives. (JEL Q24, Q15)