The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) today announced a March 15 deadline for landowners to apply for an easement program designed to protect prime, unique and important agricultural land from conversion to nonagricultural uses.

Through its Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP), NRCS works cooperatively with state and local governments and nongovernmental organizations to purchase agricultural easements on privately owned farmland or ranchland.

To qualify for FRPP, the land must be part of a farm or ranch. The site also must have more than 50 percent of its soils rated as prime farmland soils or be a site that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Other eligibility requirements include:  the current market value of the land must exceed the agricultural value of the land; the site must be large enough to sustain agricultural production; the site must be adjacent to other agricultural parcels; the site must have an NRCS-approved conservation plan; and there must be a pending offer for a conservation easement with a qualifying entity, such as a land trust.

“Many farmers and ranchers with land near urban areas would like to preserve open space, but the financial incentive of selling land for development often is too enticing,” says acting state conservationist Karen Brinkman.  “The Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program at least gives them an option.”

Brinkman says NRCS does not yet have funding for new FRPP contracts, but the agency could receive funding in the future. She says farmers and ranchers with land that might be eligible for FRPP to contact their local NRCS office. NRCS personnel in local USDA Service Centers can help prepare applications and forward them to Brinkman in the NRCS State Office in Columbia by the March 15 deadline.

More information about FRPP and other NRCS programs is available on the NRCS website: The website includes a local service center locator.


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