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News Release

USDA to Provide Federal Funds to Protect Maine's Working Farms

Bangor, Maine, December 12, 2013 - To help protect working agricultural lands in Maine, Juan Hernandez, State Conservationist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Maine, has announced that $1 million will be available to successful applicants in Fiscal Year 2014 through the agency’s Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP).

“The funds will be used to purchase conservation easements to limit conversion of farmland to non-agricultural uses,” said Hernandez.  “It’s an excellent way to keep prime farmland in agriculture and, at the same time, keep farming communities thriving by relieving development pressures. This program helps ensure that valuable, productive land is protected.”

There is a continuous, year-round sign-up for the program, but applications submitted by February 1, 2014 will be considered for funding in Fiscal Year 2014.  Applications submitted after that date will be held for Fiscal Year 2015 funding consideration.

NRCS is seeking proposals from local and state governments, federally-recognized tribal governments, and non-government organizations interested in working together to acquire conservation easements on farms.  For those proposals selected for funding, NRCS will enter into an agreement to support efforts to protect soils and historical and archaeological sites.  NRCS provides up to 50% of the appraised fair market value of the conservation easement.  All funds will be awarded to the highest ranked eligible parcels through a statewide competitive process.

Eligible entities must demonstrate a commitment to long-term conservation of agricultural lands, a capacity to acquire and manage easements, have pending offers on a farm, and available funding to match federal funds.  Eligible farmland must be privately owned, subject to a pending offer, and contain at least 50% prime, statewide, or locally important farmland soils.  In addition, the farm must include at least one-third cropland, grassland, and/or pastureland of the total acreage.

If you are interested in submitting a proposal, please contact Lance Gorham, USDA NRCS, at 207-990-9501, or email lance.gorham@me.usda.gov.

For more information on FRPP, please visit http://www.me.nrcs.usda.gov.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.