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Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program

 

Easement Program Funding Expiration - Update

The Agricultural Act of 2014 establishes the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP).

It repeals FRPP, GRP, and WRP but does not affect the validity or terms of any FRPP, GRP, or WRP contract, agreement or easement entered into prior to the date of enactment on February 7, 2014 or any associated payments required to be made in connection with an existing FRPP, GRP, or WRP contract, agreement or easement.

For more information on ACEP, please visit the ACEP web page.

Introduction

The Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP) provided matching funds to help purchase development rights to keep productive farm and ranchland in agricultural uses. Working through existing programs, USDA partners with State, tribal, or local governments and non-governmental organizations to acquire conservation easements or other interests in land from landowners. USDA provided up to 50 percent of the fair market easement value of the conservation easement.

2014 FRPP Certification Round - Closed

The Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program certified eligible entities to participate in a streamlined acquisition process.

Who Was Able To Apply

State, tribal, or local governments and non-governmental organizations, as well as other entities that could become certified, had more flexibility and a shorter process to acquire easements. Certified organizations were able to enter into longer term cooperative agreements to conduct the program’s closings without prior submission of individual appraisals, deeds or title documents for NRCS review.

Apply By January 3, 2014 -- Application Period Closed

Entities were able apply for certification by submitting a letter of request and application materials to the NRCS State Conservationist where they sought certification at any time. Although this was a continuous process, applications had to be received by January 3, 2014 to be considered at the next meeting of the certification panel.

Sample Letter of Request, State Office And Policy Links

Sample Request for Applications Letter (PDF, 51KB)

NRCS State Offices - choose the State where the land in your request is.

the following link(s) takes you off the NRCS websiteFRPP Certification Criteria (On GPO website)

Certification Policy (On NRCS eDirectives website)

Additional FRPP Information

Farmland Information Center

The Farmland Information Center is a public/private partnership between the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and American Farmland Trust (AFT), for people working to save farm and ranch land for agriculture.

The following link takes you off the NRCS websiteFarmland Protection Directory - lists state and local programs that purchase agricultural conservation easements and land trusts that have reported an interest in protecting farm and ranch land for agriculture.

The following link takes you off the NRCS websiteImpacts of the Federal Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program: An Assessment Based on Interviews with Participating Landowners - A joint project American Farmland Trust and the Center for Great Plains Studies of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln examines how the program improves agricultural viability, encourages on-farm conservation and helps farmers gain access to land.

Land Trust Alliance

NRCS Partners with Land Trust Alliance to provide training resources to FRPP partner entities

The following link takes you off the NRCS websiteLand Trust Alliance press release | Application for LTA /NRCS partnership training resources (PDF, 23KB)

The following link takes you off the NRCS websiteLand Trust Alliance Webinar, "FRPP Entity Certification"

 

FRPP results data are now housed on the RCA Soil Viewer website,

http://soils.usda.gov/survey/rca/viewer

Links to program-specific reports for FY2009 - 2012 are available on this page.

 

General Program Description

The Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program (FRPP) is a voluntary program that provides funds to farmers and ranchers to preserve their agricultural land. The program provides matching funds to State, Tribal, and local governments and non-governmental organizations, who have farmland protection programs to purchase perpetual conservation easements. USDA provides up to 50 percent of the fair market easement value of the conservation easement, while the cooperating partners provide at least 25 percent of the acquisition price.

The emphasis of FRPP is to:

  1. Protect agricultural productivity by limiting nonagricultural uses of land.
  2. Preserve farmland for future generations
  3. Sustain rural economic stability and development.
  4. Maintain, restore, and enhance ecosystems
  5. Protect open spaces.

To qualify, farmland must: be part of a pending offer from a State, tribe, or local farmland protection program; be privately owned; have a conservation plan for highly erodible land; be large enough to sustain agricultural production; be accessible to markets for what the land produces; have adequate infrastructure and agricultural support services; and have surrounding parcels of land that can support long-term agricultural production. In addition, eligible farm or ranch land must contain one of the following:

  1. Prime, unique, or statewide or locally important soil.
  2. Historical or archaeological resources.
  3. Land that furthers a State or local policy consistent with the purposes of the program.

Because FRPP project proposals are submitted from eligible entities directly to the NRCS State Office, an announcement of general FRPP funds availability is generally not made at the county level. However, interested landowners are encouraged to contact NRCS at your local USDA Service Center.

Benefits

Applications for FRPP are under a continuous sign-up, with applications accepted by NRCS at any time. There is a cut-off date, however, where applications will be ranked and tentatively selected for funding. Cut off dates for 2014 are March 21 and May 16. Applicants after that date will automatically be deferred to the next funding cycle.

The FRPP provides matching funds to State, Tribal, or local governments or non-governmental organizations that have active farm and ranch land protection programs, to acquire conservation easements. These easements prohibit the conversion of farm and ranch land to nonagricultural uses, and ensure that the agricultural capacity of the soils remains viable for future generations. State, Tribal, or local governments or non-governmental organizations must have an active program to purchase agricultural conservation easements to participate in the FRPP and meet the other requirements of eligible entities described below.

Eligible entities that have pending offers that meet the program eligibility may submit their proposed parcels to NRCS State offices continuously throughout the year. Entities requesting funding must submit a pending offer for each parcel in the proposal and have the required matching funds in cash at the time of application. When FRPP funds are available, the Chief of NRCS allocates funds to each NRCS State office. The State office staff ranks the proposed parcels and selects parcels for funding.

NRCS enters into cooperative agreements with eligible entities that are associated with the parcels selected and obligates the NRCS funds for their acquisition. NRCS refers to eligible entities that have entered into an FRPP cooperative agreement as “cooperating entities.” Each state will establish ranking criteria that will prioritize enrollment of FRPP parcels based on entity, landowner, and land eligibility, as well as natural resource and other agricultural related factors. Eligible landowners must be in compliance with Adjusted Gross Income limitations, and Highly Erodible Lands and Wetland Conservation Provisions of the Farm Bill before Receiving FRPP payments.

Depending on funding availability, proposals must be submitted by the eligible entities to the Wyoming State NRCS Office during the application window. FRPP Applications to be completed by cooperating entities can be found at FRPP Parcel Workbook.

For More Information:

Additional program information and fact sheets are available at Wyoming FRPP Fact Sheet or on the National Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program Home Page. To learn more about Wyoming’s priority areas, cooperating entities, and FRPP easement plans for the future please click on 2014 Wyoming State FRPP Plan.

Contact:
Emily Fife, easement remediation coordinator, (307) 233-6774
Grant Stumbough, resource conservationist, (307) 233-6760