Certification Eases Applying for Conservation Easement Program
Renee Bodine, 352-338-9565
GAINESVILLE, Fl., Dec. 4, 2013—The Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program is making it easier for state, tribal, local governments and non-governmental organizations to enroll land in conservation easements through advanced certification.
This Farm Bill program provides matching funds to purchase easements on private working lands to ensure productive farms and ranches will be kept in agricultural uses forever.
Entities may apply for certification by submitting a letter of request and application materials to the Florida NRCS state conservationist by Jan. 3, 2014 to be considered for the first round of requests. “Certification streamlines the process and gets more conservation on the ground faster,” said Florida State Conservationist Russell Morgan.
When organizations are certified, they may enter into longer term cooperative agreements and conduct the property closings without prior submission of individual appraisals, deeds or title documents for NRCS review. Organizations must hold, manage and monitor a minimum of five of the program’s conservation easements to qualify for certification. For a full list of the certification criteria, see the program’s web page.
“In order to feed the increasing world population, we must ensure farmers and ranchers have prime agricultural land available. FRPP plays a crucial role in keeping land in agricultural uses and certifying entities make that process easier,” Morgan said. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service administers the program that has protected more than 2 million acres for the production of food, feed and fiber since 1996.
Submit letters for certification to the Florida State Conservationist, USDA NRCS State Office, 2614 NW 43rd Street, Gainesville, FL 32606. For more information on the application materials required for certification, visit the NRCS website or contact Nina Bhattacharyya, 352-338-9554.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Stop 9410, Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call toll-free at (866) 632-9992 (English) or (800) 877-8339 (TDD) or (866) 377-8642 (English Federal-relay) or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish Federal-relay).