Boards & Commissions

PIG BT Fact Sheet

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The purpose of this fact sheet is to provide farmers interested in the Township’s
Farmland Preservation Program with information about the process and answer to
frequently asked questions. For additional information, please do not hesitate to
contact the Bernards Township Agricultural Advisory Committee’s Secretary,
Suzanne Hooper, at 908-204-3076.

1. Planning Incentive Grant (PIG) Program

In October 2004 Bernards Township established the Agricultural Task Force
to review farmland preservation in Bernards Township. The Task Force
recommended Bernards pursue farmland preservation strategies to preserve farmland
and maintain active, viable agriculture in Bernards Township. A local right to farm
ordinance was passed in December 2004 and in January 2005 the Agricultural
Advisory Committee was established and the Planning Board adopted the Farmland
Preservation Element to the 2003 Master Plan.  

Farms may be approved for farmland preservation funding, pending authorization of
the Bernards Township PIG Program, which is expected during Summer 2005.  Local 
criteria to prioritize applications include the degree to which a candidate farm is an
active, economically viable enterprise, contributing to the continuation of agriculture
in Bernards Township. Additional criteria may be applied, including the size of the
farm, quality of soils, likelihood of long-term agricultural operations on the farm, etc. 
It is the intention of the local PIG program that Bernards Township taxpayer funding
provided for farmland preservation be used solely for the preservation of working
farms. Preservation of green acres, open space and non-farm related land do not
qualify for this program.  

2. Application Deadline

There is no application deadline.  After the Township’s PIG Farmland Preservation
Program Application is approved by the State and County, and funding is authorized,
applications to the Township's farmland preservation program will be accepted on a
continual basis. As long as funding is available, and the farm is a worthy
preservation prospect (i.e. working farm, possesses unique or unusual scenic or other
attributes that elevate the property to a level of local importance for preservation), the
Township will continue to process farmland preservation applications on a continual
basis.  However, farmers offering a partial donation of easement value on the
preservation of their farms will receive priority consideration. The Bernards
Agricultural Advisory Committee will review farmland preservation applications at
their regular meeting following receipt of the application and will pass
recommendations on to the Township Committee.   

3. Timeline

Once the Township’s PIG Farmland Preservation Program is approved, farmland
preservation easements can be purchased more quickly than the other farmland
preservation programs (i.e. County/State conventional and direct easement
purchases). It will require approximately 6 to 8 months from the time a completed
State-approved application form is approved by the SADC to the purchase of
development easements and preservation of the farm.  

The farmer is responsible for preparing the application for submittal to the
Township’s Agricultural Advisory Committee.  However, the Committee will provide
technical assistance to the farmer, when requested and where possible.  The cost for
preparing a farmland preservation application and supporting documentation is the
farmer's responsibility.  

4. Application Process

To assist the farmer in avoiding unnecessary cost, the farmer may first prepare a
"Farm Profile Form", which the Township has prepared to facilitate the Bernards
Township Agricultural Advisory Committee review of an applicant’s farm. The Farm
Profile Form does not require all of the information required in a formal application.
This permits the Committee to rank a farm according to the program criteria at
minimal expense to the farmer. If the farm is ranked as a priority acquisition, the
Committee will advise the farmer to prepare the State’s approved application for
farmland preservation. If the farm is not ranked as a priority acquisition, the
Committee’s review will result in a recommendation not to preserve the farm.

The State application requires the following information:

  • Completion of the State-approved application form (SADC Farmland Preservation Program – PIG Application For An Individual Farm)
  • Preparation of two appraisals, prepared in accordance with State guidelines and by State certified appraisers for farmland preservation. These appraisals are reviewed by the SADC and the SADC provides a Certified Fair Market Value, which is a value within the range of the two appraisals.  SADC rules do not permit the State to certify a value higher than the highest appraised value or lower than the lowest appraised value. Appraisals are available for farmers to review.

5. Additional Considerations

In the State and County programs, farms are ranked against a large pool of applicants
from municipalities throughout the County and State, which includes a cost
consideration of the per acre development easement value. In the local program, a
farm is ranked against farms in Bernards Township.  There is no per acre value cap
on development easements purchased through the PIG Program. However, due to
high local land values, and in accordance with State funding guidelines, Bernards
Township has agreed to establish a local policy that farmland preservation applicants
that offer a partial per acre development easement value donation will receive priority
consideration. For example, farmers and landowners that agree to sell the
development easements at a bargain sale, i.e. less than the full Certified Fair Market
Value will receive priority consideration.