Agricultural Districts

What is an Agricultural District?

The Division of Conservation administers the Agricultural District Program.  This program was created by the Agricultural District and Conservation Act (KRS 262.850) that was passed by the Kentucky General Assembly in 1982.

Kentucky has been a national leader in the protection of its land resources and in promoting the economic importance of its agricultural industry. The Agricultural District Program plays a valuable role in protecting our agricultural land base and family farms across the state.

The goals of the Agricultural District Program are to protect our best agricultural land for food and fiber production and to prevent its conversion to nonagricultural usage.

Land enrolled in the Agricultural District Program cannot be annexed, cannot be condemned without mitigation, is taxed at the agricultural rate, is eligible for deferred assessment costs when water lines are extended and receives extra points when applying for state Cost Share or to the Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easements (PACE) Program.

A landowner or group of landowners with at least 250 contiguous acres in active agricultural production is eligible to form an agricultural district. Individual parcels must contain at least 10 acres or 11 acres with a homestead.  The total acreage in the district may drop below 250 over time, but individual parcels must remain at 10 or 11.  Participation is strictly voluntary, and a landowner may withdraw land at anytime without penalty or without jeopardizing the status of the existing agricultural district.

Currently, there are 538 certified agricultural districts consisting of approximately 465,715 acres in 81 of Kentucky’s 120 counties.  These numbers change often.

Map of Current Districts_StateKY2
What are the benefits?

As described in KRS 262.850, there are benefits to joining an Agricultural District, including:

  • Land within the boundary of an agricultural district shall not be annexed;
  • The owners of land within the boundary of an agricultural district shall be exempt under KRS 74.177 from any assessment authorized for the extension of water service lines until the land is removed from the district and developed for nonagricultural use; and
  • It shall be the policy of all state agencies to support the formation of agricultural districts as a means of preserving Kentucky's farmlands
    • Receives extra ranking points when applying for State Cost Share (SCS) or to the Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easements (PACE) program
  • Taxed at the agricultural rate
  • Cannot be condemned without mitigation

How do I sign up my farm?

Step 1: You and your neighbors can sign up your farms (each much be at least 10 acres big, ultimately containing 250 acres total) by a petition. This petition must be filled out legibly in order to submit to BCCDKY. If the land is located in two counties, the petition should be filed in the county where the majority of the acreage is located.

Step 2: BCCDKY or other Conservation District will notify the Fiscal Court, Planning and Zoning, and the City (if located in the city). This opens the Agricultural District up for comment.

Step 3: BCCDKY will send the petition, map, and all comments to the Soil and Water Conservation Commission to approve the creation of the Agricultural District.

Step 4: Once approved, you will have to recertify every FIVE years.