For the last 50 years, local, state and the federal governments have expressed concerns about farmland retention. Four benefits have been used to warrant farmland preservation programs: food security and local food supply, viable local agricultural economy, environmental and rural amenities, and sound fiscal policy and orderly development. We explore the available evidence of how well farmland preservation programs have provided these benefits. Research suggests that people clearly desire farmland preservation programs and express a willingness to pay for the environmental and rural amenities provided. Some evidence has been found that farmland preservation programs can benefit the local economy and/or have no negative impacts relative to other economic development opportunities. The programs appear to slow farmland loss and thus may be having an impact on local government expenditures and orderly development, but the evidence here is limited due to methodological issues.