Overview of Federal and State Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easement (PACE) Programs


Development pressure in densely populated areas of the United States can be a cause of farmland consumption for residential and commercial development, which could in turn threaten the viability of existing farming operations. Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easement programs, also known as PACE programs, are one of the legal tools that have been used at the state and federal levels to protect farmland and farming viability against development pressures. Through PACE programs, the government purchases the development rights to agricultural land in exchange for the imposition of an agricultural conservation easement upon the land.

This webinar will provide an overview of, and background for, various state and federal PACE programs, including the recent consolidation of previous federal programs into one single program called the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program. The webinar also will address how land is identified, evaluated, and selected for PACE programs as well as reviewing the pros and cons of the various methods employed. With many government-purchased easements now approaching or exceeding the 25-year mark, this webinar will discuss the legal issues that have been addressed by these programs as well as the legal issues that have been raised by the continuation of these programs.


Time and Date:


 Wednesday,September 15, 2021

12:00 – 1:00 (EST)

11:00 – 12:00 (CST)


Click here to find a recording of this webinar.


Ross H. Pifer is a Clinical Professor of Law at Penn State Law where he also serves as Director of the Center for Agricultural and Shale Law and Director of the Rural Economic Development Clinic.  In the classroom, Ross teaches courses on Agricultural Law, Oil and Gas Law, Property, and the Law and Policy of Shale Gas Development.  He has presented widely throughout Pennsylvania, as well as nationally and internationally, on agricultural law and shale gas topics to audiences comprised of judges, attorneys, legislators, government officials, landowners, and the general public.  Prior to joining the faculty at Penn State Law, Ross was an attorney-advisor for the USDA Office of General Counsel.  At the beginning of his legal career, he served overseas on active duty as an attorney with the U.S. Army JAG Corps where he advised military personnel and commands in the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Great Britain, and Germany.  He received his B.S. in agricultural business management from Penn State University, his J.D. from The Dickinson School of Law, and his LL.M. in agricultural law from the University of Arkansas School of Law.  He is an active member of the American Agricultural Law Association where he currently serves on the Board of Directors.

Research & Materials:

Presentation Slides – Purchase of Ag Conservation Easements