Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program is not a grant program. Accepting FRPP funding constitutes an agreement to partner with the USDA in acquiring the proposed easement. Like any partner, FRPP must ensure that significant program requirements are met. USDA will review appraisal and title work, conduct an on-site investigation and landowner interview, conduct a hazardous materials search and carefully review and approve easement language to ensure that USDA legal and program requirements are met.
NRCS Proposed Easement Application Ranking Process
As part of the ranking and eligibility process, NRCS will complete a pre-acquisition database search for hazardous materials on or near the proposed easement. In addition, NRCS will conduct an on-site visit to determine the condition of the land. NRCS will also interview the landowner to ensure that all FRPP requirements are understood and that any information collected is accurate and complete.
As a condition for participation, a conservation plan for all Highly Erodible land (HEL) on the farm must exist or be developed. To ensure compliance with the plan, the easement shall grant to the United States, through NRCS and its successor or assigns, a right of access to the easement area.
Here is a timeline estimate for a submitted application.
2 to 5 weeks
Application and eligibility review will begin immediately after sign-up begins. Applicants may continue to update their applications and submit additional materials up until the ranking date. Applicants may be contacted with requests for clarification or additional information.
5 to 6 weeks
Applications are ranked and entities will be notified of funding decisions via letter after each ranking period.
6 to 10 weeks
Once selections are made the entity and NRCS work toward creating a cooperative agreement or executing an amendment to the existing cooperative agreement.
10 to 40 weeks
The entity and NRCS work toward securing a closing by reviewing title work, securing title insurance, reviewing appraisal and reviewing final deed language.
Note: Reviewing and Clearing titles is the most lengthy and crucial part of acquiring FRPP easements and ensuring clean title can be achieved. The earlier in the process you have a full title search completed and start working on the encumbrances getting either subordinated, released, removed or modified to satisfy the integrity to the proposed conservation easement the faster the process will work.
Note: Reviewing and revising appraisals are also very lengthy if the appraisal has an unsatisfactory review. Do not obtain the services of an appraiser without clearly defining what is needed to meet FRPP requirements. If this is not clearly understood this could ultimately cost the landowner a considerable amount of money and time lost.
40 to 52 weeks
After setting the closing date the entity either closes the easement with NRCS reimbursing after closing as method of payment; or submits a request for advancement of funds to be sent to closing agent.
52 to 65 weeks
After closing entity and NRCS receive copies of all settlement statements, copy of recorded deed, copy of all other curative documents required at closing (subordinations, releases etc–).
65 to 70 weeks
NRCS issues a confirmation letter to the entity and landowner that the easement has been officially accepted and remind the entities that annual monitoring reports are required.