Gov. John Carney and the Delaware Department of Agriculture recently announced a new, interactive dashboard to help Delawareans better understand farmland preservation.

Delaware's statewide program made its first round of easement purchases in 1996 and has since preserved 22 percent of New Castle County farmland, 38 percent of Kent County farmland and 16 percent of Sussex County farmland. The Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Foundation selects those farms approved for easement purchase using an impartial discounted ranking system that maximizes benefits for taxpayers. The foundation does not own the land, but rather purchases landowners’ development rights and places a permanent agricultural conservation easement on the property.

The dashboard was released after an easement selection announcement that preserves more than 127,000 acres of farmland in Delaware. The Delaware Department of Agriculture’s new dashboard creates an interactive experience to help Delawareans see the value of farmland preservation.

The online dashboard was created through Operations Dashboard for ArcGIS, released by ESRI late 2017. The department is one of the early adopters of the software in the state and in farmland preservation throughout the country. Utilizing real-time data visualization, visitors to the dashboard are able to interact with operational data, see it visually and gain insight on this round of farmland preservation.

Carney’s proposed budget called for $20 million for open space and farmland preservation.

This is the 22nd consecutive year of easement selections by the Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Foundation. The foundation purchased the development rights of 41 farms totaling 3,534 acres, with one farm in New Castle County, thirty in Kent County and 10 in Sussex County preserved. In addition to more than 127,000 acres in permanent easements, Delaware’s Aglands Preservation Program has more than 45,000 acres of land enrolled in farmland preservation districts. Landowners must first voluntarily enroll their farm into a 10-year preservation district before they can sell an easement.