As of January 2010, 25 states have active state-level PACE programs. Montana’s state PACE authority expired in 2003. Arizona, Georgia, Hawaii and Texas — have authorized PACE but have not set up programs.

In March 2010, New Mexico passed the Heritage Conservation Act that creates and funds an easement acquisition program to protect a variety of resources including farm and ranch land. Dozens of local communities and private land trusts complement state programs or, where none exist, independently protect agricultural land.

Nationwide, thousands of communities benefit from protected farms and ranches for local production of food, fiber energy and ecosystem services as well as value-added enterprises that ripple through local economies. Beyond their direct and indirect economic impacts, protected farms maintain open space, community heritage and rural character in perpetuity.

Combined PACE programs reached important milestones in 2009. To date, the state programs have invested over $3 billion to protect more than 2 million acres of farm and ranch land. States with well-established PACE programs have added to their achievements. Four states — Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware and Massachusetts — have each invested more than $100 million toward farmland protection while Maryland has invested more than $575 million, Pennsylvania more than $700 million, and New Jersey more than $800 million. Colorado, Maryland and Pennsylvania have each protected more than 345,000 acres.

AFT’s Farmland Information Center conducts an annual survey of state and local PACE programs throughout the country. The results are available online at: www.farmlandinfo.org.