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Farmland Protection Policy Act

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has national leadership for administering the Farmland Protection Policy Act (FPPA) (Public Law 97-98, December 22, 1981). The effective date of the FPPA rule (part 658 of Title 7 of the Code of Federal Regulations) is August 6, 1984.

Purposes

  • Minimize the extent to which Federal programs contribute to the unnecessary and irreversible conversion of farmland to nonagricultural uses.
  • Assure that Federal programs are administered in a manner that, to the extent practicable, will be compatible with State, unit of local government, and private programs and policies to protect farmland.

The FPPA does not authorize the Federal Government in any way to regulate the use of private or nonfederal land, or in any way affect the property rights of owners of such land.

What Does "Farmland" Mean?

As used in the FPPA, 'farmland' includes prime and unique farmland, and land of statewide or local importance.

"Farmland" subject to FPPA requirements does not have to be currently used for cropland. It can be forestland, pastureland, cropland, or other land, but not water or urban built-up land.

Projects Subject to FPPA Requirements

Subject projects include any projects which may irreversibly convert (directly or indirectly) farmland (as defined above) to nonagricultural use; and are completed by a Federal agency or completed with the assistance of a Federal agency.

Assistance NRCS Provides to Other Federal Agencies

  • Acquiring or disposing of land
  • Providing financing or loans
  • Managing property
  • Providing technical assistance

Activities Subject to the FPPA

  • Most DOT highway construction
  • Most airport expansions
  • Most electric cooperative construction projects
  • Some railroad construction projects
  • Most telephone company construction projects
  • Most reservoir & hydroelectric projects
  • Most Federal agency projects which convert farmland
  • Many other projects completed with Federal assistance

Activities Not Subject to the FPPA

  • Federal permitting & licensing
  • Projects planned & completed without the assistance of a Federal agency
  • Projects on land already in urban development or used for water storage
  • Construction within an existing right-of-way purchased on or before August 4, 1984
  • Construction for national defense purposes
  • Construction of on-farm structures needed for farm operations
  • Surface mining, where restoration to agricultural use is planned
  • Construction of minor new ancillary structures such as garages or storage sheds
  • Projects with a site assessment score of 60 or less

How to Comply with the FPPA

  1. Obtain a Farmland Conversion Impact Rating. Early in the planning process, determine if the project is subject to the FPPA. If the project may be subject to the FPPA, obtain a Farmland Conversion Impact Rating (FCIR) form (form AD-1006) from the NRCS. For Corridor type projects, the Federal agency shall use form NRCS-CPA-106 in place of form AD-1006.

    http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/landuse/fppa/
    http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb1045394.pdf AD-1006  http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb1045395.pdf CPA-106

    If uncertain whether or not the project is subject, continue with the compliance procedure.
     
  2. Complete parts I and III of the form. In completing part III include ALL acres in the project site to be converted, farmland and non-farmland. In part IIIB (total acres to be converted indirectly) include:

    All acres that are not being directly converted, but that would no longer be capable of being farmed, because the conversion would restrict access to them

    All acres planned to receive services from an infrastructure project (eg: highways, utilities), as indicated in the project justification, and that are likely to be directly converted as a result of the availability of the new infrastructure services.

    Part IIIC should equal the sum of parts IIIA & IIIB - all acres to be converted. If the project plans include more than one design alternative, each alternative should be considered as an alternative site. Use multiple FCIR forms, as needed.
     
  3. Email the FCIR form along with a project description and detailed maps showing areas to be converted to the Connecticut NRCS State Soil Scientist at Debbie.Surabian@ct.usda.gov.

    Materials to submit to NRCS:
    - Include a cover letter with specifics of the projects. For example, the dimensions of the area to be converted 
      and county or counties of where the project is located.
    - Maps should include the project area on a USGS 7.5 minute quadrangle topographic map with the project area
      that will be converted clearly and accurately delineated. Provide dimensions of the area to be converted.
    - Alternatively to paper maps, you may provide digital data of the project.

    If the FPPA does not apply, NRCS will return a letter advising that no further action is needed. If the FPPA does apply, NRCS will complete parts II, IV, and V of the form and return it.
     
  4. Complete parts VI and VII of the form. General guidelines for site assessment scoring are provided in 7 CFR Part 658.5(b).

    TOTAL POINTS in part VI can be used to determine which alternative sites should receive the most protection from conversion to non-agricultural uses. Other considerations being equal, sites with the highest TOTAL POINTS have the most agricultural value and should receive the most protection.

    Include the completed FCIR in any project reports which are circulated for public review and comment, or which describe proposed project alternatives.
     
  5. Complete the bottom part of the form. After a final decision on a project has been made, complete the bottom part of the form (site selected & reason for selection) and return a copy to the Connecticut NRCS State Office at 344 Merrow Road, Suite A, Tolland, CT 06084.

    This information will be used in completing the annual report to Congress on FPPA compliance and implementation.

USDA NRCS National FPPA website

NRCS State Level FPPA Contacts

Connecticut LESA System for the Farmland Protection Policy Act