Protecting Agricultural Lands
Participating in a Development Rights Agreement
Michigan has numerous programs in place to preserve farmland by temporary and permanent restriction on development of farmland in return for tax benefits, exemptions from special assessments, cash, and the like.
- Farmland Development Rights Agreement (commonly known as the PA 116 Program). The State of Michigan’s Farmland and Open Space Preservation Act (Part 361 of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (NREPA), but commonly known as PA 116) enables a landowner to enter into a development rights agreement with the state. The agreement ensures that the land remains in an agricultural use for a minimum of 10 years and that it is not developed for a non-agricultural use. In return for maintaining the land in an agricultural use, the landowner may be entitled to certain income tax benefits, and the land is not subject to special assessments for sanitary sewer, water, lights, or non-farm drain projects.
- State Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) Program. Part 361 of NREPA includes a provision for a state purchase of development rights (PDR) program. The PDR program is a voluntary program between the state and landowner and puts a permanent restriction on the land. This program ensures the land will remain in agriculture in exchange for a cash payment to the landowner.
- Agriculture Preservation Fund. This fund provides grants to local units of governments for implementing local purchase of development rights programs. These local governments must have adopted a development rights ordinance providing for a PDR program in accordance with the applicable zoning act and adopted (within the last 10 years) a comprehensive land-use plan that includes a plan for agricultural preservation.