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Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program

FRPP: Lessons Learned

With the repeal of the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP) under the new Farm Bill of 2014, NRCS has been approached by organizations interested in hosting a meeting or series of meetings to discuss lessons learned through FRPP under the 2008 Farm Bill.

NRCS looks forward to meeting with partners and stakeholders at meetings that will be hosted by national, regional, state, or local land conservation organizations to exchange information about FRPP under the 2008 Farm Bill and how we can better administer the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program under the 2014 Farm Bill.

NRCS hopes to learn from participants what worked and what did not work in our efforts to preserve the agricultural use of farm and ranch land through implementation of FRPP. NRCS will post invitation(s) from the Hosts of these meeting on its FRPP webpage and is willing to attend similar meetings in the future.

NRCS will not obtain the participant’s consensus advice at these sessions, as attempting to obtain consensus advice or recommendations could possibly trigger the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA).

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

General Program Description

FRPP Rotational GrazingThe Farm and Ranchland Protection Program (FRPP) is a voluntary program of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) whose purpose is to protect agricultural lands by limiting non-agricultural uses. NRCS partners with approved state, local units of government, and certain nongovernmental organizations who arrange for the purchase of development rights through conservation easements on private lands. The entity holds and manages these conservation easements in perpetuity.

The amount available for this program in Kentucky for 2014 is approximately $1.7 million. Funds will be used to reimburse the entities for up to 50 percent of the current appraised fair market value of the conservation easement on approved parcels. All parcels are ranked individually on their own merit. Funds will be awarded to the highest ranked eligible parcels through a statewide competitive process. Conservation easements on funded parcels must close by March 31, 2016. Entities must bear the cost of appraisals, surveys when needed, title search, legal and closing costs, and monitoring and enforcement of the easement. More specific information may be obtained from the contact person listed below.

Established in 1996, the 2008 Farm Bill and Final Rule changed how the program works. Please read all application materials carefully.

Notice of 2014 Program Funding

Kentucky NRCS will accept applications of entities and parcels through February 21, 2014 for federal fiscal year 2014 funding. The entity must be deemed eligible before any parcels submitted by that entity will be considered. All required parcel data must be included or the parcel will be rejected.

NRCS does not accept applications directly from individual landowners for this program. Landowners must work through an approved entity to participate in FRPP.

Entity Eligibility Criteria

Any state or local unit of government, or qualified nongovernmental organization can apply for FRPP funds by demonstrating:

  • A commitment to long-term conservation of agricultural lands
  • A capability to acquire, manage, and enforce easements
  • Sufficient staff dedicated to monitoring and easement stewardship
  • The availability of matching funds

Eligible nongovernmental organizations:

  • Are organized for and, at all times since the formation of the organization, has been operated principally for one or more of the conservation purposes specified in clause (i), (ii), (iii), or (iv) of section 170(h)(4)(a) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.
  • An organization described in section 501(c)(3) of that code or is described in section  509(a)(3) of that code and is controlled by an organization described in section 509(a)(2) of the that code.
  • Described in paragraph (1) or (2) section 509(a) of that code or is described in section 509(a)(3) of that code and is controlled by an organization described in section 509 (a)(2) of that code.
  • The clauses under section 170 address the following:
    • The preservation of land areas for outdoor recreation by, or the education of, the general public.
    • The protection of a relatively natural habitat of fish, wildlife, plants, or similar ecosystems.
    • The preservation of open space (including farmland and forest land) where such preservation is –
      • for the scenic enjoyment of the general public.
      • Pursuant to a clearly delineated Federal, State of local governmental conservation policy and will yield a significant public benefit.
    • The preservation of a historically important land area or a certified historic structure.

Eligible entities who have parcels selected to receive FRPP funding will sign an agreement with NRCS. Within 30 days of agreement signing, the entity will be required to submit a draft easement deed for NRCS approval.

Parcel Eligibility

Eligible land must:

  • Be privately owned
  • Meet at least one of the three following eligibility requirements:
    • Contain at least 50% prime, unique, statewide, or locally important farmland
    • Contain historical or archeological resources
    • Further a State or local policy consistent with the purposes of the program
  • Be subject of a pending offer from the entity
  • 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
  • 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 parcel must be established at the time the parcel is submitted for potential funding.

The eligibility of the land and the landowner for each parcel must be established at the time the parcel is submitted for potential funding.

Documents on this page may require Acrobat Reader.

For each parcel, the landowner's legal name and contact information must be provided.  A form NRCS-CPA-1200, Conservation Program Application must be completed by the owner(s) of each parcel and submitted by the entity as part of the application package. Additionally, a CCC-901, Members Information form or a CCC-902E, Farm Operating Plan for an entity must be signed by the landowner and on file with the Farm Service Agency (FSA).

The landowner must be compliant with Highly Erodible and Wetland Conservation provisions of the 1985 Farm Bill, as amended. A current AD-1026, Highly Erodible Land Conservation and Wetland Conservation Certification form must be on file with FSA.

As of December 2, 2013 no adjusted gross income (AGI) self certifications are currently required for Fiscal Year (FY) 2014.  In past years landowners were required to meet the adjusted gross income limitation, earning less than $1 million in income for each of the past three years, unless more than 66 percent of the total gross income was from farm income. While FRPP applications may currently be evaluated and selected for funding with no regard to AGI, legislation may be enacted that would prohibit NRCS from making any program payments for any parcel if parcel landowners exceed a specific AGI.  Additionally, future legislation may not include the flexibility to waive AGI payment eligibility requirements.

Forest management plans are required on all parcels with forest cover on greater than 10 acres or 10% of the easement area (whichever is greater). If the parcel requires a forest management plan, a certification by the landowner that such a plan will be completed prior to closing is needed.

NRCS Parcel Ranking Process

Kentucky will use a very similar ranking process for 2014 as was used in 2013.

As part of the ranking and eligibility process, NRCS will complete a pre-acquisition database search for hazardous materials on or near the parcel. 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, NRCS will develop a conservation plan for all Highly Erodible Land. To ensure compliance with the plan, the easement shall grant to the U.S., through NRCS and its successor or assigns, a right of access to the easement area.

Entities will be notified of parcel funding decisions as soon as possible after the end of the ranking period.  All funds will be obligated by June 30, 2014.

Application Submissions

Interested entities must complete information regarding the Kentucky 2014 FRPP funding and application process which is found in the following document:

KY Funding Announcement and Application Information (PDF, 53 KB)

All applications for 2014 funding must be received by 4:30 PM on Friday, February 21, 2014.

Due to the inclusion of personal and private information, no electronic submittals will be accepted.

Applications should be marked "PRIVATE" and addressed to:

Deena Wheby, Assistant State Conservationist
USDA-NRCS
771 Corporate Drive, Suite 210
Lexington, KY 40503
Phone: 859-224-7350
e-mail: deena.wheby@ky.usda.gov

State Contact:

Deena Wheby
Assistant State Conservationist for Programs
Phone: 859-224-7350