Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP)
Max award: Up to 50% of the market value of the conservation easement
Big idea: The Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program's purpose is to keep agricultural lands in production, and does so by assisting with the purchase of conservation easements from volunteer landowners. These easements ensure that the land will never be developed out of agricultural uses and provide income for landowners.
Who can apply: USDA partners with State, Tribal, or local governments or farm land protection programs to acquire conservation easements from landowners working through existing farm land preservation programs. Owners of certain agricultural lands, subject to income limitations, apply through these State, Tribal and local entities.
Real example: The Bushy Hill Orchard in Granby, Connecticut, had been farmed for more than 30 years by a family that could no longer maintain the 70-acre farm but wanted to ensure that it would remain in agriculture. FRPP partnered with the Farmland Preservation Program of the Connecticut Department of Agriculture to help the Town of Granby and the Granby Land Trust purchase the development rights to the land, thereby preserving it as farmland. With the development rights paid for, the orchard could later be sold for its agricultural land value rather than its inflated real estate or commercial potential, making the orchard affordable for an adjacent diversified farmer to purchase.
Possibilities: The Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program is a great example of how the USDA is protecting natural resources and encouraging smart growth while supporting local farmers and local food systems. In addition to farm and ranch lands, forest land that contributes to the economic viability of - or serves as a buffer to protect - an agricultural operation may also qualify under this program.