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The Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) Program is a voluntary program which is intended to offer a non-development alternative to farmers and other owners of "prime" and "state important" agricultural land who are faced with a decision regarding future use and disposition of their farms. Towards this end, the program offers to pay farmland owners the difference between the "fair market value" and the "agricultural value" of their farmland in exchange for a permanent deed restriction which precludes any use of the property that will have a negative impact on its agricultural viability.

Massachusetts’ APR program, begun as an act of the Legislature in 1979, was the first in our nation and has since been a model upon which many other states have built their programs. As of 2008 the Massachusetts APR program has permanently protected over 725 farms and a total land area of over 61,855 acres. The primary purpose of the APR program is to preserve and protect agricultural land, including designated farmland soils, which are a finite natural resource, from being built upon for non-agricultural purposes or used for any activity detrimental to agriculture and to maintain APR land values at a level that can be supported by the land’s agricultural uses and potential.