Frequently Asked Questions
PDR stands for Purchase of Development Rights. We use it to refer to current state-preserved farm properties or potential properties to be preserved under the State of Connecticut’s farmland preservation programs. A PDR deed is the resultant easement document granted by land owners to the State of Connecticut and other entities, which describes the location and restrictions of the preserved farmland.
Although applications must be considered on an individual basis, the traditional Farmland Preservation Program (FPP) is typically intended for preserving larger (>30 acres) farms that have a significant quantity of cropland and prime and important soils as defined by the United State Department of Agriculture.
It is the goal of the Department of Agriculture to preserve as many farms as possible in a timely manner. Although it can be difficult to predict the unique situations that can arise in each preservation project, and coordinating stakeholders is time-consuming, 18-24 months should be considered a minimum window of time to complete a preservation effort through our programs. Please keep in mind that some farms take even longer to preserve.
What am I allowed to do on my preserved farm property?
Each PDR deed is unique, but the owner of a preserved farm must not undertake activities that diminish the land and soil for agricultural use.
In general, a PDR owner may:
- Conduct agricultural activities
- With approval from the Department of Agriculture, construct buildings such as barns, ponds for irrigation, roadside stands for sale of agricultural products, processing facilities, gravel farm roads, and sometimes residences for persons incidental to the farm.
- Extract gravel for use on the farm with limitations
- Perform farmland restoration, usually in accordance with an NRCS-developed Conservation Plan
Please reach out to the Department of Agriculture for questions related to specific restrictions and specific easement deeds. If in doubt, ask!
In general, yes, but all construction or impacts to soil must be approved by the Department of Agriculture following receipt of an Application to Construct, which details the owner’s construction plans. Individual PDR deeds contain limits to impacts on prime soil, arable land, and/or overall acreage. Many PDR properties have designated building envelopes intended to contain structures, although it is often possible to construct outside of envelopes if there is an agricultural need. Approval is necessary for construction within a PDR whether inside or outside of building envelopes. Some PDR deeds do not allow for construction of structures, and most limit the number and size of residence structures. If in doubt, ask!
Commercial, non-agricultural events of any kind are strictly prohibited on PDR properties, however, the Department of Agriculture may approve a very limited number of farm-related events (such as weddings or farm-to-table dinners) on a temporary basis provided such events incorporate the farm and Connecticut agriculture in a prominent way. PDR owners must submit an Application to Construct and obtain approval of such events, subject to the limitations outlined in their respective PDR deed. Seasonal hay rides and educational tours may be allowable, also subject to the limitations outlined in the owner’s PDR deed.
Yes, however before closing of the PDR deed, your lender must subordinate its interest in the property that may interfere with the terms of the PDR easement deed. Historically, this hasn’t been a significant obstacle for most preserved farm applicants, but we recommend that applicants engage with a real estate attorney and their lender during the preservation process.
Upon receiving an application, the Department of Agriculture will consider the land offered and confirm eligibility of a preservation configuration that we believe best utilizes the land for agriculture and makes the most sense for current and future farmers. Land owners then have an opportunity to modify a proposed configuration, however, the Department of Agriculture must determine eligibility and viability of changed boundaries.
The Farmland Preservation Unit is able to process FPP and CFPP applications for serious potential buyers who provide a signed purchase and sale agreement or contract option to buy. We recommend consulting with a real estate attorney regarding contingencies contained in said agreement. Our aim is provide information within three weeks of receiving applications, however, we are unable to guarantee a property will be preserved in our program.
I am considering buying a preserved farm, am I able to find out if my potential construction would be approved?
The Farmland Preservation Unit is able to process Applications to Construct for serious potential buyers of PDR properties who provide a signed purchase and sale agreement or contract option to buy. We recommend consulting with a real estate attorney regarding contingencies contained in said agreement. Our aim is provide information within three weeks of receiving applications.
Farmland Preservation, through the state's FPP and CFPP programs, involves preserving properties in perpetuity for agricultural use. The Farmland Restoration Grant is a grant program to match funding of efforts to restore or improve agricultural land, but that land does not need to be preserved in the state's Farmland Preservation Programs to qualify.