Funding Available to Protect Prime Soils and Family Farms
Richmond, November 7, 2012 – Got good soil? Virginia governmental and non-governmental groups that can answer yes to that question may be eligible to work with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to protect prime and important farmland from development through the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP).
FRPP provides matching funds to help purchase development rights to keep productive farmland in agricultural use and is one of three NRCS conservation easement programs. Eligible entities include state and local governments and non-governmental organizations such as land trusts. Applications are accepted on a continual basis, but NRCS encourages eligible entities to apply on or before January 18, 2013 to be considered for funding in fiscal year 2013.
“Last year alone, NRCS worked with partners to preserve more than 800 acres of prime farmland through FRPP,” said State Conservationist John A. Bricker. “One easement with the Virginia Outdoors Foundation protected a 640-acre tract in Middlesex County from future residential development. This is one of the largest waterfront farms along the lower tidal Rappahannock River with more than seven miles of shoreline and two tidal creek systems.”
Groups seeking to partner with NRCS must meet the following eligibility criteria:
Established farmland protection program
Authority to hold and manage easements
Capacity to acquire, manage, and enforce the easements
Funds to match the federal contribution
These groups must provide at least 25 percent of the purchase price in cash. They must also secure the appraisal, survey, and title search; prepare the conservation easement deed; and pay for the closing. Landowners may accept less than the appraised fair market value of the easement, thus donating a portion of the value.
2012 was one of the most successful years for enrolling new easements in Virginia with nine new agreements to protect nearly 1,500 acres. For more information, including the application forms and ranking criteria, contact your local NRCS office or visit www.nrcs.va.usda.gov/.