NRCS Announces Farmland Protection Funding
ST PAUL, MINN, July 18, 2013 –– The Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP) administered by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), is accepting applications for funding for 2013. Eligible entities must submit applications by August 19, 2013, to receive consideration for funding this year.
The program is designed to provide up to 50 percent of the funding to eligible entities, who in turn work with individual farm owners to purchase an agricultural easement to keep the prime farmland in agriculture. Only eligible entities, such as State, Tribal, or local governments and non-government organizations, may apply for funding. The entities must have an established farmland protection program, have the authority to hold and manage easements; and the funds to match the Federal contribution. At least fifty percent of the appraised fair market value of the easement must be provided by the eligible entity.
Please note: interested entities should carefully review the 2013 Cooperative Agreement Template which includes appraisal specifications, before submitting application packages. Applications may be rejected if these specifications are not followed.
The entity must be deemed eligible before any proposed easements submitted by that entity will be considered. All required easement data must be included for the application to be considered.
Funds for FRPP will be awarded to the highest ranked eligible applications through a statewide competitive process. All proposed easements applications are ranked individually on their own merit. Funds will be used to reimburse the entities for up to 50 percent of the appraised fair market value of the conservation easement on approved applications.
Entity Eligibility Criteria
Any state or local unit of government, or non-profit organization in Ohio can apply for FRPP funds by submitting an Application for Federal Funding (SF-424, SF-424a and SF-424b), and by demonstrating:
Commitment to long-term conservation of agricultural lands;
Ability to acquire, manage, and enforce easements;
Sufficient staff dedicated to monitoring and easement stewardship; and
The availability of funds for each application.
Eligible entities will be notified by email of their eligibility status and if an agreement with NRCS for a period of three years will be developed. Within 30 days of agreement signing, the entity will be required to submit a draft easement deed for NRCS approval.
Proposed Easement Eligibility
Eligible land must:
Be privately owned;
Contain at least 50 percent prime, unique, statewide, or locally important farmland;
Be subject to a pending offer or option to purchase;
Contain cropland, grassland, pasture land, or forest land that contributes to the economic viability of an agricultural operation;
Not include forest land of greater than two-thirds of the easement; and
Possess on-site and off-site conditions which will allow the easement to be effective in achieving the purposes of the program.
The eligibility of the land and the landowner for each proposed easement must be established at the time the application is submitted for potential funding.
For each proposed easement application, the landowner’s legal name and contact information must be provided. The landowner must complete a CPA 1200. The landowner must be compliant with Highly Erodible and Wetland Conservation provisions of the 1985 Farm Bill, as amended. A current AD-1026 must be on file with the Farm Service Agency and must be included with the application.
Conservation management plans are required on FRPP easements with highly erodible land located within the proposed easement area.
Forest management plans are required on all FRPP easements with forest cover on greater than 40 acres or 20 percent of the easement area (whichever is greater).
In addition to the above, the entity must include:
A copy of the signed easement offer with parcel legal description;
A listing of funding sources and amounts for each application;
A current aerial photograph with the easement area and local road network indicated;
A map of the proposed easement boundary; and
A completed proposed easement ranking sheet.
The maps and ranking sheet shall include only those lands for which the FRPP program funds are requested; not any exception areas located on the farm. The ranking sheet should contain the specific proposed easement details as well as the subsequent score. Details include:
Percent of prime, unique, and important farmland in the proposed easement;
Percent of cropland, pastureland, and grassland in the proposed easement;
Ratio of total acres in the proposed easement to the average farm size in the county;
Proximity of the proposed easement to other preserved farms, or land;
Proximity of the proposed easement to other agricultural operations and infrastructure
National FRPP Website
For more information including contact the NRCS office at the USDA Service Center serving your county.
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service helps America’s farmers and ranchers conserve the Nation’s soil, water, air and other natural resources. All programs are voluntary and offer science-based solutions that benefit both the landowner and the environment.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).