Middlesex County’s May 26 acquisition of a Monroe Township farm safeguards 35-acres from development through the Farmland Preservation Program.
The county purchased the development rights for the farmland located on Federal Road, owned by the Estate of the late Anthony Zimbicki, in partnership with the state and the Township of Monroe.
The state contributed $567,502.20, the county paid $189,167.40, and Monroe Township paid $189,167.40 toward the purchase with a total price of $945,837.
“The Middlesex County Board of County Commissioners has always had a commitment to preserving land within our beautiful county, evident in our thousands of acres of farmland and open space already preserved,” said Middlesex County Commissioner Director Ronald Rios in a prepared statement. “We look forward to continuing to preserve more farmland properties and protecting them from non-agricultural development as it’s an investment in all of our futures. Farmland preservation is the first step to ensuring food is available for generations to come.”
According to a 2018 report by American Farmland Trust, 31 million acres of farmland were lost between 1982 and 2012 nationwide. According to the report, 2,000 acres of agricultural land are irreversibly converted every day. New Jersey farmland is the third most threatened, after Texas and New York, as 3.9% of the state’s agricultural land was converted by developers between 2001 and 2016.
Including the Zimbicki farm, more than 5,459 acres of farmland have been preserved throughout the county, of which 3,746 acres have been specifically preserved through the Farmland Preservation Program. Other preservation easements were purchased with County Farmland Preservation Program funds, as well as acquisitions made directly by the state, the municipalities, a nonprofit organization, and state-owned lands.
The MCFPP purchases the non-agriculture development rights on farmland that meets criteria established by the county’s Agriculture Development Board and the New Jersey State Agriculture Development Committee. The value of the rights is determined by two independent appraisals, and the farmland is preserved by placing an agriculture preservation easement on the property.
Farmland owners interested in participating in the program must submit a formal application to the Middlesex County Agriculture Development Board. Farm owners interested in the program can contact, Middlesex County Office of Planning Supervising Planner Laurie Sobel at (732) 745-4014.