The Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program provides funds to help purchase development rights to keep productive farmland in agricultural uses. Working through existing local farmland protection programs, USDA enters into a cooperative agreement with State, tribal, local governments, or nongovernmental organization to acquire perpetual conservation easements or other interests from landowners. All rights to use the property for agriculture are retained by the landowners.
To qualify, a farm must: be a part of a pending officer from a State, tribe or local farmland protection program; be privately owned; be threatened by development; have a conservation plan; be large enough to sustain agricultural production; be accessible to markets for what the land produces; have adequate infrastructure and agricultural support services; and have surrounding parcels of land that can support long-term production.
Depending on funding availability, proposals much be submitted by the cooperating entities to the NRCS State Conservationist during the application window. USDA provides up to 0 percent of the fair market appraised value for these transactions. Landowners my choose to donate 25 percent of the appraised fair market value of the conservation easement.