Sign Up Underway for Conservation Easement Program
Richmond, VA, November 22, 2013 – Virginia private landowners and operators and cooperating entities are encouraged to sign up by December 20, 2013 for participation in the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP). FRPP provides matching funds to eligible entities for purchasing development rights to keep working farms and ranchland in agricultural uses.
FRPP project applications are accepted on a continual basis, but NRCS encourages eligible entities to submit them on or before December 20, 2013 to be considered for funding in fiscal year 2014. A second ranking period deadline is January 17, 2014.
FRPP protects productive agricultural land by purchasing conservation easements to limit conversion of farm and ranch lands to non-agricultural uses. NRCS provides up to 50 percent of the appraised fair market value of the conservation easement in this voluntary program. Eligible cooperating entities must match that amount which may include landowner donations as part of the match.
Groups seeking to partner with NRCS on FRPP projects 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 entities 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.
NRCS is making it easier for landowners to enroll in the program through a certification process. This process gives landowners or entities who have worked with this program greater latitude and authority to work through a shorter acquisition process for easements. The first cutoff date for applying for certification is January 3, 2014.