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Agricultural Easements Protect Farmland

Alaska State Fair property to stay in agriculture thanks to Alaska Farmland Trust, State of Alaska and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service

Palmer, Dec. 2  –USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Alaska State Fair, and the Alaska Farmland Trust are pleased to announce the permanent conservation of farmlands owned by the Alaska State Fair. The Alaska Farmland Trust is now the holder of a conservation easement on nearly 40 acres of important hay land owned by the Alaska State Fair in Palmer. The easement was made possible largely through the NRCS Farm and Ranch Protection Program.

Agricultural lands and open space properties throughout the Valley are quickly being subdivided for residential development. The location and views cannot be better for homeowners, but once the land is converted to houses and roads it will never be farmland again. Alaska has limited soils with characteristics suitable for growing food and fiber, making this farmland easement even more important for people wanting to eat locally grown food or purchase locally grown hay. In addition, the Fair will still be able to use the hayfield for overflow parking on the busiest days of the State Fair by special provisions in the deed of easement.

The value of the easement is nearly $900,000 with the Alaska State Fair Board of Directors donating nearly 25 percent of the easement’s value making the final cost to the Alaska Farmland Trust just over $650,000. The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and the State of Alaska came together to assist the Alaska Farmland Trust fund the easement purchase.

USDA’s Farm and Ranch Protection Program is now consolidated into the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program under the 2014 Farm Bill. The program provides financial assistance to eligible entities, such as land trusts, for purchasing agricultural land easements from private landowners to protect agricultural uses and conservation values of the most valuable agricultural lands while also helping farmers and ranchers stay in production. Land eligible for agricultural easements includes privately-owned cropland, rangeland, grassland, pastureland, and non-industrial private forest land.

NRCS employees provide technical assistance based on sound science and suited to agricultural customers’ specific needs. NRCS provides financial assistance for many agricultural conservation activities to protect soil, water and related natural resources. Participation in programs is voluntary and non-regulatory.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).