County Agricultural Development Board (CADB)

About Farmland Preservation

Hunterdon County has preserved many of its scenic vistas of rolling fields with hay, corn, and soy in active production. Hunterdon County continues to have a large land area of farms: more than 120,000 farmland assessed acres according to the county parcel and tax data as of 2017. This number amounts to about 44% of the total land acreage of the County. The average farm size in Hunterdon County is 63 acres. There is a trend towards high-value crops and specialty crops and animals, such as vegetables, horticulture, and organic foods and herbs. Horse farms continue to be popular, hence the market for the County's large hay production.

Hunterdon County's Farmland Preservation Program is administered by the County Agriculture Development Board (CADB).

CADB Mission Statement

To define the CADB's role in farmland preservation and to help guide future policies, the following mission statement and program objectives were adopted by the CADB: "Promote the present and future of Hunterdon County agriculture by preserving agricultural land and by promoting public education and agricultural viability."

CADB Program Objectives

  • Create critical masses of preserved farmland.
  • Preserve farms characterized by soils of prime and statewide importance.
  • Give priority to farms with implemented soil conservation plans.
  • Coordinate CADB preservation efforts with State Agriculture Development Committee (SADC), municipal, and nonprofit organization farmland preservation efforts.
  • Promote the education of farmers, government officials, and the public about farmland preservation, the Right to Farm Act, and other pertinent agricultural matters.
  • Work with municipal, county, and state agencies and nonprofit organizations to encourage tourism.
  • Promote agribusiness opportunities through education and advocacy.
  • Promote soil and water stewardship on preserved farms by requiring an implemented soil conservation plan that is periodically updated.

Hunterdon County Comprehensive Farmland  Preservation Plan 2023

Hunterdon County adopted an updated Plan in 2023

View the Hunterdon County Comprehensive Farmland Preservation Plan 2023 (PDF).

Special Occasion Events on Preserved Farms

  • New legislation grants an easement waiver to certain preserved farms to host non-agricultural events with the permission of the easement holder.
  • Guidance documents are available from the SADC, scroll to “Special Occasion Events.”
  • If Hunterdon County holds the easement, please apply for the SOE Application (PDF)
  • Please contact the CADB Administrator with any questions or concerns. 

Agriculture in Hunterdon County

Hunterdon County continues to be a leader in agriculture. According to the 2018 NJ Department of Agriculture Annual Report and the 2017 U.S. Census of Agriculture. Hunterdon County leads the State in farmland acreage, hay production value, and hay harvested acreage. Hunterdon is among the top counties in corn production, cattle, and equine.

Resources for Farmers

The following resources are available to farmers interested in Hunterdon County:

Why Preserving Farms Matters

Farmland is a non-renewable resource - when it's gone it's gone forever. With the current rate of development in Hunterdon County, farmland is vanishing before our eyes.

The question to ask is: "Why preserve farmland?" The population in Hunterdon County has increased by nearly 40% since 1980. More people means more development. Unfortunately, the land that is best for development is typically prime farmland. With the farmland preservation program, the quality and location of farms can be targeted to preserve and prevent them from being permanently lost to development.

Agriculture offers a special quality of life that most residents in Hunterdon County enjoy. It stabilizes property taxes because farms require less governmental services than residential development. It also maintains clean air by generating little traffic, provides fresh local produce, and offers attractive vistas.

The majority of residents in Hunterdon County depend on groundwater for their drinking water supply. Farmland provides groundwater recharge areas. These are areas that allow rainwater to filter back into the ground. In turn, by preserving farmland, we are contributing to the conservation of water.

Through various public forums and opinion surveys, Hunterdon County residents have clearly stated their desire to preserve the County's rural character. The Hunterdon County Farmland Preservation Program and the newly adopted Open Space Trust Fund are aggressively seeking to achieve this goal.

In November 1998, statewide funding for farmland preservation dramatically increased with the establishment of a dedicated funding source. The Garden State preservation trust, on average, will allocate $60 million dollars per year for ten years to farmland preservation efforts. With this substantial increase in funding, the Hunterdon County Farmland Preservation Program has an opportunity to preserve farms unlike ever before. To date, Hunterdon County has nearly 7,000 acres of preserved farmland. The County's Farmland Preservation Program will continue to be active in helping maintain an economically viable agricultural industry.

Permanently Preserved Farms as of July 01, 2023

Farmland Preservation Application Forms

The CADB is now taking applications for the Planning Incentive Grant Program (PIG):

Easement Purchase Application Form:

For details please call the Planning and Land Use department at 908-788-1490 or email Bob Hornby, the CADB Administrator.

Municipal PIG Farm Applications must be submitted by the municipality. Please contact your municipality for details on their Municipal Farmland Preservation Program.