January 2, 2014

2014 Farm and Ranch Easement Program Applications Due February 14

Land trusts and other eligible entities interested in permanently protecting farm or ranchlands in California are encouraged to submit applications to the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP) by Feb. 14, 2014.
“We are excited to announce that we have significantly more funds available than in previous years to permanently protect farms and ranches for future generations,” said Carlos Suarez, NRCS state conservationist in California. Six million dollars are available to permanently protect farm and ranchlands throughout California.

FRPP is a voluntary easement program that helps farmers and ranchers keep their land in agricultural production. The program provides matching funds to State, Tribal, or local governments and nongovernmental organizations with existing farmland protection programs to purchase conservation easements.

Landowners interested in the FRPP must first work with one of these eligible entities with funds necessary to match the federal contribution from NRCS. The permanent conservation easements protect agricultural land and important farmland soils, by prohibiting conversion to non-agricultural uses.

While NRCS accepts FRPP applications throughout the year, the agency plans to make 2014 funding decisions from the pool of applications received by February 14. As with all NRCS easements, the landowner retains the title to the land and the right to control access and recreational use. The land remains on the tax rolls.

In 2013, NRCS funded $4.2 million in FRPP easements to protect eight agricultural properties, in six counties. In total, 3,000 agricultural acres were protected helping to sustain farming in California.

Since its inception in 1935, NRCS has worked in partnership with private landowners and a variety of local, state and federal conservation partners to deliver conservation based on specific, local needs.