To help protect working agricultural lands in Maine, Juan Hernandez, State Conservationist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)in Maine, has announced that $1 million will be available to successful applicants in Fiscal Year 2013 through the agency’s Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP).
“This program helps ensure that valuable, productive land is protected,” said Hernandez. “The funds will be used to purchase conservation easements to limit conversion of farmland to non-agricultural uses. It’s an excellent way to keep prime farmland in agriculture and, at the same time, keep farming communities thriving by relieving development pressures.”
There is a continuous, year-round sign-up for the program, but applications submitted by March 29, 2013 will be considered for funding this fiscal year. Applications submitted after March 29, 2013, will be held for Fiscal Year 2014 funding consideration.
NRCS is seeking proposals from local and state governments, federally-recognized tribal governments, and non-government organizations interested in working together to acquire conservation easements on farms. For those proposals selected for funding, NRCS will enter into an agreement to support efforts to protect soils and historical and archaeological sites. NRCS provides up to 50% of the appraised fair market value of the conservation easement. All funds will be awarded to the highest ranked eligible parcels through a statewide competitive process.
Eligible entities must demonstrate a commitment to long-term conservation of agricultural lands, a capacity to acquire and manage easements, have pending offers on a farm, and available funding to match federal funds. Eligible farmland must be privately owned, subject to a pending offer, and contain at least 50% prime, statewide, or locally important farmland soils. In addition, the farm must include at least one-third cropland, grassland, and/or pastureland of the total acreage.
If you are interested in submitting a proposal, please contact Lance Gorham, USDA NRCS, at 207-990-9501 or email email@example.com.
For more information on FRPP, please visit http://www.me.nrcs.usda.gov .
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