Board of Commissioners

Purchase Development Rights (PDR)

What is a Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) Program?

PDR Programs are economic development tools to retain agricultural businesses. A PDR Program is a voluntary program that compensates owners of agricultural property for their willingness to accept a permanent deed restriction on their land that limits future development of the land for non-agricultural purposes.

Howard Family Farm

Landowners are compensated for the fair market value of their land, based on the difference between what it could be sold for on the open market with no restrictions and what it can be sold for as farmland. Independent, professional appraisers determine these values and an agreement is negotiated on an individual basis with the farmer. Once an easement is in place, the landowner may still sell the land on the open market as farmland. All private property rights remain intact.

Why is preserving farmland important to Kent County?

A committee of Kent County residents identified the following list.

Economic Benefits of Farmland Protection

  • Agriculture provides economic diversity as essential contributor to local economy
  • Important to create a long-term business environment for the future growth and changing market opportunities of the local agriculture industry
  • Insure a safe, adequate local food supply

Environmental Benefits of Farmland Protection

  • Watershed protection
  • Wildlife habitat
  • Prime and unique soils
  • Integral part of natural resource infrastructure

Social Benefits of Farmland Protection

  • Helps maintain a quality of life for all citizens
  • Protects rural character, beautiful country side and scenic vistas
  • Promote a sustainable and viable urban-rural community interface

Kent County is the 5th most agriculturally productive county in the state with a market value of over $149 million annually. It is an important sector of our economy and provides many jobs.

Once farmland is converted to development, it is very difficult for the land to be farmed.

In today’s marketplace, large blocks of farmland are needed to create a long-term business environment for farming. Essential infrastructure such as farm equipment suppliers, processors, and others will leave if they don’t have a sustainable customer base.

Why would a landowner be interested in PDR?

The Michigan Department of Agriculture lists the following as potential benefits to the landowner for their participation in a PDR Program:

  • Participation is completely voluntary.
  • All private property rights remain intact.
  • The landowner can access a portion of the land equity, while still maintaining ownership and agricultural use of the land without having to sell it for development or non-farm uses.
  • Cash from the sale of the development rights can be used for reducing debt, lowering operating costs, improving or expanding farm operations, college educations, retirement, or for any purpose the individual wishes.
  • Property taxes and inheritance taxes are based only on the residual agricultural value of the land rather than the full developmental value.
  • Farmland is now more affordable for younger farmers and eases the transfer of property to future generations.
  • The landowner can still borrow against the reduced equity in their land. Other states’ track records show remaining land retains excellent (and increasing) resale value.