Your farm could be a candidate for a purchased easement, in which you would receive direct compensation for protecting your land. These funds could allow you to re-invest in the farm, pay off debt, or extract some equity before passing the farm along to the next generation.
The funds for purchased easements can come from MFT (or other private parties), from various state or federal programs, or from some combination of private and public sources. In Maine, the bulk of the funding used to purchase easements is private funding that MFT raises from philanthropic sources. In addition, some funds flow directly to landowners from state and federal programs. The primary source of state funds is the Land for Maine’s Future (LMF) program, and the primary source of federal funds is the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). As a landowner, you cannot apply directly to LMF or ACEP, but MFT or another land trust can apply for you.
If you are interested in and eligible for a purchased easement, the best starting place is to contact MFT to explore the various options that exist.