Sussex County officials announced June 25 the county will again join the latest round of easement purchases through the Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Program, a State-led initiative to protect working farms and keep agriculture viable amid a changing economic and cultural landscape.

Delaware officials announced the latest round results June 24.

The county will contribute $1 million as its share in the nearly $2.1 million price tag to protect eight farms and more than 725 acres in Sussex County. In addition to the county’s contribution, which comes from county reserves, the program will utilize funding from the state and federal governments to make the easement purchases. Property owners will retain ownership of their lands, but will forgo any rights to subdivide and develop the parcels in the future.

This is the second year in a row the county has participated in Delaware’s farmland preservation program, and follows other joint efforts dating back to 2003. Since then, the county has contributed more than $3 million to protect more than 3,500 acres in Sussex.

County Council President Michael H Vincent said the county is following through on commitments made in the budget, as well as the recently state-certified comprehensive plan.

“The county believes protecting our No. 1 industry is critical to ensuring Sussex County’s continued economic vitality and enhanced quality of life,” said Vincent. “We are proud to sow the seeds of preservation today, so future generations can reap the rewards tomorrow.”