Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman today announced that more than $78 million is available to protect farm and ranch land in all 50 states and Puerto Rico through the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP).
"This program helps ensure that valuable, productive land is protected," said Veneman. "The funds will be used to purchase conservation easements to limit conversion of farm and ranch lands to nonagricultural uses."
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will accept FRPP proposals from interested state, tribal and local governments and nongovernmental organizations until mid-March 2005 to manage the program. A Request for Proposals will be published in the Federal Register soon.
For those proposals selected for funding, USDA enters into agreements with nongovernmental organizations, states, federally recognized tribes and local governments to support their efforts to protect soils and historical and archaeological sites. USDA provides up to 50 percent of the appraised fair market value of the conservation easement.
To participate in the program, landowners agree to limit the use of their land for nonagricultural purposes and to develop and implement a conservation plan. The farm or ranch land must contain productive soils or historic or archaeological sites and be:
part of a pending offer from a nongovernmental organization, state, tribe or local farmland protection program;
covered by a conservation plan;
large enough to sustain agricultural production;
accessible to markets for what the land produces; and
surrounded by parcels of land that can support long-term agricultural production.
Additional information on FRPP, including the Request for Proposals, is on the Web at www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/frpp.
Below is a state list of funds available to purchase conservation easements.
State Funds Available
New Hampshire $2,683,255
New Jersey $4,548,630
New Mexico $360,100
New York $2,728,900
North Carolina $2,044,800
North Dakota $241,500
Rhode Island $2,728,085
South Carolina $1,401,237
South Dakota $189,800
West Virginia $1,645,503
Puerto Rico $200,000