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farm and Ranch lands protection program

The FRPP provides matching funds to help purchase agricultural conservation easements on productive farm and ranch land. To qualify, landowners must work with state and local governments or non-governmental entities to secure a pending offer with funding equal to at least 50 percent of the land’s fair market value. Only parcels large enough to sustain agricultural production are eligible.

  • 2002 Farm Bill Authorization: $597 million over 6 years
  • 1996 Farm Bill Authorization: $52 Million ($35M + $17M)

American Farmland Trust works with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to expand participation in the FRPP.

Adequate Funding for the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program a Must

The 2002 Farm Bill provided historic funding levels for farm and ranch land protection, authorizing $597 million for FRPP through 2007—a 1,000 percent increase from the levels authorized by the 1996 Farm Bill. However, a portion of those gains are lost annually during the appropriations process. FRPP funding has been cut $55 million below the amount authorized by the 2002 Farm Bill. In addition, $42 million in FRPP program funds were used to provide technical assistance for other conservation programs due to a legislative dispute between Congress and the USDA.

New Impervious Surface Standard Imposed

In 2003, NRCS developed new guidelines for use in easement review, including a new policy concerning impervious surfaces. As stated in the FRPP program manual, NRCS will not cost-share on projects that contain or allow over two percent impervious surface coverage on the land under easement. Impervious surfaces include residential buildings, agricultural buildings (with and without flooring) and paved areas both within and outside the conservation easement’s building envelopes. For easements of less than 50 acres, only one acre of impervious surface area is permitted.

Conservation partners throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions have expressed concern about this new standard, suggesting that a two percent impervious surface limit could significantly limit the ability of livestock (principally dairy) and greenhouse operations to expand and construct desired agricultural buildings.

The new guidelines are contained in subpart G of the FRPP program manual found at: http://policy.nrcs.usda.gov/scripts/lpsiis.dll/M/M_440_519.htm

American Farmland Trust