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We investigate what farmland preservation programs reveal about the importance of protecting different rural amenities. An extensive content analysis of the enabling legislation of various farmland protection programs suggests wide variation exists in the protection of amenities. An analysis of 27 individual Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) programs' selection criteria suggests these programs favor preserving amenities that are jointly provided by cropland and livestock operations. These PDR selection criteria also reveal unique preferences regarding the spatial patterns of preserved agricultural lands. Variation in relative weights given to protecting most parcel characteristics in PDR programs is not easily explained by factors that characterize areas experiencing farmland losses.


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