Farmland Protection Program

Published on AidPage by IDILOGIC on Jun 24, 2005

Administered by:

Purpose of this program:

To purchase conservation easements to limit conversion to non-agricultural uses of farm and ranch lands that contain prime, unique, or important soils or historical and archaeological resources.

Possible uses and use restrictions...

Funds are provided to purchase conservation easements in partnership with States, Tribes, or local government entities, or eligible nongovernmental organizations. The Federal share for any easement acquisition is limited to a maximum of 50 of the appraised fair market value of the conservation easement. A conservation plan is required for highly erodible lands enrolled under an FRPP easement. Conservation easements are perpetual easements. A contingent remainder right is incorporated in the conservation easement deed for the protection of the Federal investment. A failure of title would require the cooperating entity to reimburse the United States for the Federal share of the easement value.

Who is eligible to apply...

Any local or State agency, county or groups of counties, municipality, town or township, soil and water conservation district, or Indian tribe or tribal organization, that has a farmland protection program that purchases conservation easements for the purpose of protecting topsoil by limiting conversion to non- agricultural uses of land, and that has pending offers may apply for funds. This program is available in all 50 States, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoas, the Mariana Islands, and the Trust Territories of the Pacific Islands. Individuals must apply through their local agency that handles purchase of development rights programs. This program is excluded from coverage under E.O. 12372.

Eligible Applicant Categories:
Eligible Functional Categories:

Entities must provide documents indicating their commitment to long-term conservation of agricultural lands through legal devices, such as right-to-farm laws, agricultural districts, zoning, or land use planning; uses of voluntary approaches to protect farmland from conversion to non-agricultural uses; and their capability to acquire, manage, and enforce conservation easements. Programs must have a systematic plan for acquiring conservation easements, have a proven commitment to agricultural land protection, and sufficient funds and staff to monitor and enforce conservation easements.

Note:This is a brief description of the credentials or documentation required prior to, or along with, an application for assistance.

About this section:

This section indicates who can apply to the Federal government for assistance and the criteria the potential applicant must satisfy. For example, individuals may be eligible for research grants, and the criteria to be satisfied may be that they have a professional or scientific degree, 3 years of research experience, and be a citizen of the United States. Universities, medical schools, hospitals, or State and local governments may also be eligible. Where State governments are eligible, the type of State agency will be indicated (State welfare agency or State agency on aging) and the criteria that they must satisfy.

Certain federal programs (e.g., the Pell Grant program which provides grants to students) involve intermediate levels of application processing, i.e., applications are transmitted through colleges or universities that are neither the direct applicant nor the ultimate beneficiary. For these programs, the criteria that the intermediaries must satisfy are also indicated, along with intermediaries who are not eligible.

How to apply...

Application Procedure:

Application information is included in a Notice of Request for Proposals published in the Federal Register. It is available from the State Offices of the (NRCS), the Federal Register, and USDA NRCS home page, and the Farmland Information Library homepage.

Note: Each program will indicate whether applications are to be submitted to the Federal headquarters, regional or local office, or to a State or local government office.

Award Procedure:

NRCS State Offices work with the applicants to review their programs, evaluate their priority lists, and award funding to applicants that have submitted parcels that meet FRPP objectives.

Note: Grant payments may be made by a letter of credit, advance by Treasury check, or reimbursement by Treasury check. Awards may be made by the headquarters office directly to the applicant, an agency field office, a regional office, or by an authorized county office. The assistance may pass through the initial applicant for further distribution by intermediate level applicants to groups or individuals in the private sector.

Deadlines and process...


Each year funds are available the deadline for applying is published in the Federal Register.

Note: When available, this section indicates the deadlines for applications to the funding agency which will be stated in terms of the date(s) or between what dates the application should be received. When not available, applicants should contact the funding agency for deadline information.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

Indicated on the Notice of Request for Proposals published in the Federal Register.

Preapplication Coordination

Potential applicants must submit documents to the appropriate State Office of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and work with NRCS to develop a statewide priority list. This program is excluded from coverage under E.O. 12372.

Note: This section indicates whether any prior coordination or approval is required with governmental or nongovernmental units prior to the submission of a formal application to the federal funding agency.


Not applicable.

Note: In some cases, there are no provisions for appeal. Where applicable, this section discusses appeal procedures or allowable rework time for resubmission of applications to be processed by the funding agency. Appeal procedures vary with individual programs and are either listed in this section or applicants are referred to appeal procedures documented in the relevant Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).


Not applicable.

Note: In some instances, renewal procedures may be the same as for the application procedure, e.g., for projects of a non-continuing nature renewals will be treated as new, competing applications; for projects of an ongoing nature, renewals may be given annually.

Who can benefit...

Any local or State agency, county or groups of counties, municipality, town or township, soil and water conservation district, Federally recognized Indian tribe or eligible nongovernmental organization, such as a land trust, may apply.

About this section:

This section lists the ultimate beneficiaries of a program, the criteria they must satisfy and who specifically is not eligible. The applicant and beneficiary will generally be the same for programs that provide assistance directly from a Federal agency. However, financial assistance that passes through State or local governments will have different applicants and beneficiaries since the assistance is transmitted to private sector beneficiaries who are not obligated to request or apply for the assistance.

What types of assistance...

Direct Payments for Specified Use

Financial assistance from the Federal government provided directly to individuals, private firms, and other private institutions to encourage or subsidize a particular activity by conditioning the receipt of the assistance on a particular performance by the recipient. This does not include solicited contracts for the procurement of goods and services for the Federal government.

How much financial aid...

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

$2,700 to $1,000,000 per landowner. Average: $97,000.

Note: This section lists the representative range (smallest to largest) of the amount of financial assistance available. These figures are based upon funds awarded in the past fiscal year and the current fiscal year to date. Also indicated is an approximate average amount of awards which were made in the past and current fiscal years.


(Direct Payments) FY 03 $50,677,000 (Financial Assistance) $28,800 (Technical Assistance); FY 04 $75,135,700 (Financial Assistance) $2,382,672.57 (Technical Assistance); and FY 05 $84,833,000 (Financial Assistance) est $3,509,000.

Note: The dollar amounts listed in this section represent obligations for the past fiscal year (PY), estimates for the current fiscal year (CY), and estimates for the budget fiscal year (BY) as reported by the Federal agencies. Obligations for non-financial assistance programs indicate the administrative expenses involved in the operation of a program.

Account Identification

12-1000-0-1-302; 12-4336-0-1-302.

Note: Note: This 11-digit budget account identification code represents the account which funds a particular program. This code should be consistent with the code given for the program area as specified in Appendix III of the Budget of the United States Government.

Examples of funded projects...

1) California Department of Conservation's Agricultural Land Stewardship Program; 2) Florida St. Johns River Water Management District's Georgia-Pacific Project; 3) Massachusetts Department of Food and Agriculture's Agricultural Preservation Restriction Program; 4) Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management's Farmland Purchase of Development Rights Program; 5) Vermont Housing and Conservation Board's Farmland Conservation Easement Program; 6) The Nature Conservancy; 7) Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program provides an opportunity to expand Federal partnerships with States, Tribes, and local government entities and nongovernmental organizations to protect farm and ranch land for future generations; to protect strategic agricultural land from conversion to nonagricultural uses; maintain, restore, and enhance ecosystem function; protect historic landscapes, scenic beauty, and open space; and sustain rural economic stability.

About this section

This section indicates the different types of projects which have been funded in the past. Only projects funded under Project Grants or Direct Payments for Specified Use should be listed here. The examples give potential applicants an idea of the types of projects that may be accepted for funding. The agency should list at least five examples of the most recently funded projects.

Program accomplishments...

In fiscal year 2002, USDA entered into cooperative agreements with 89 entities to protect over 71,000 acres of farm and ranch land containing prime, unique, and important soils or historical and archaeological resources.

Criteria for selecting proposals...

Criteria used for selecting proposals are: The type and terms of easements, the use by a cooperating entity of a land evaluation and site assessment system to evaluate applications for their program, a programmatic process for systematic easement acquisition, evidence of a successful program, and the magnitude of the resources protected.

Assistance considerations...

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Federal funds must be disbursed within two to five years after signing the cooperative agreement. Technical assistance to maintain the conservation plan, however, is provided by NRCS through the life of the easement.

Formula and Matching Requirements

Each cooperating entity is required to contribute towards the conservation easement acquisition. For the cooperating entity, two cost-share options are available when providing its matching offer. The entity must provide, in cash, at least 25 percent of the appraised fair market value of the conservation easement or 50 percent of the purchase price of the conservation easement. Each cooperating entity is required to fund its own administrative costs in acquiring easements, such as surveys or title searches, and costs incurred in managing and enforcing the easements.

A formula may be based on population, per capita income, and other statistical factors. Applicants are informed whether there are any matching requirements to be met when participating in the cost of a project. In general, the matching share represents that portion of the project costs not borne by the Federal government. Attachment F of OMB Circular No. A-102 (Office of Management and Budget) sets forth the criteria and procedures for the evaluation of matching share requirements which may be cash or in-kind contributions made by State and local governments or other agencies, institutions, private organizations, or individuals to satisfy matching requirements of Federal grants or loans.

Cash contributions represent the grantees' cash outlay, including the outlay of money contributed to the grantee by other public agencies, institutions, private organizations, or individuals. When authorized by Federal regulation, Federal funds received from other grants may be considered as the grantees' cash contribution.

In-kind contributions represent the value of noncash contributions provided by the grantee, other public agencies and institutions, private organizations or individuals. In-kind contributions may consist of charges for real property and equipment, and value of goods and services directly benefiting and specifically identifiable to the grant program. When authorized by Federal legislation, property purchased with Federal funds may be considered as grantees' in-kind contribution.

Maintenance of effort (MOE) is a requirement contained in certain legislation, regulations, or administrative policies stating that a grantee must maintain a specified level of financial effort in a specific area in order to receive Federal grant funds, and that the Federal grant funds may be used only to supplement, not supplant, the level of grantee funds.

Post assistance requirements...


Annual reports on the status of the easements acquired will be prepared by the cooperating entity and submitted to the NRCS State Office. Fund disbursement reports are prepared by NRCS.

Note: This section indicates whether program reports, expenditure reports, cash reports or performance monitoring are required by the Federal funding agency, and specifies at what time intervals (monthly, annually, etc.) this must be accomplished.


An audit may be made in accordance with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular No. A-102 Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Cooperative Agreements to State and local governments and other related Circulars.

Note: This section discusses audits required by the Federal agency. The procedures and requirements for State and local governments and nonprofit entities are set forth in OMB Circular No. A-133. These requirements pertain to awards made within the respective State's fiscal year - not the Federal fiscal year, as some State and local governments may use the calendar year or other variation of time span designated as the fiscal year period, rather than that commonly known as the Federal fiscal year (from October 1st through September 30th).


Records of easements acquired will be maintained for the life of the easements by the cooperating entity and NRCS.

Note: This section indicates the record retention requirements and the type of records the Federal agency may require. Not included are the normally imposed requirements of the General Accounting Office. For programs falling under the purview of OMB Circular No. A-102, record retention is set forth in Attachment C. For other programs, record retention is governed by the funding agency's requirements.



Food Security Act of 1985, as amended (16 U.S.C. 3838h and 3838i).

Note: This section lists the legal authority upon which a program is based (acts, amendments to acts, Public Law numbers, titles, sections, Statute Codes, citations to the U.S. Code, Executive Orders, Presidential Reorganization Plans, and Memoranda from an agency head).

Regulations, Guidelines, And Literature

Notice of Request for Proposals, Federal Register, Volume 68, No. 64, pp. 16253-16258, April 3, 2003.

Contact information...

Web Sites
Regional Or Local Office

For a list of NRCS State Offices with telephone numbers and addresses, see Additional Contact Information - FMR Help.

Note: This section lists the agency contact person, address and telephone number of the Federal Regional or Local Office(s) to be contacted for detailed information regarding a program such as: (1) current availability of funds and the likelihood of receiving assistance within a given period; (2) pre-application and application forms required; (3) whether a pre-application conference is recommended; (4) assistance available in preparation of applications; (5) whether funding decisions are made at the headquarters, regional or local level; (6) application renewal procedures (including continuations and supplementals) or appeal procedures for rejected applications; and (7) recently published program guidelines and material. However, for most federal programs, this section will instruct the reader to consult the so-called Appendix IV of the Catalog due to the large volume of Regional and Local Office Contacts for most agencies. This information is provided in Additional Contact Information (see below).

Headquarters Office

Farmland Protection and Community Planning Staff, Natural Resources Conservation Service, U. S. Department of Agriculture, P. O. Box 2890, Washington, D. C. 20013. Telephone: (202) 720-9476, fax: (202) 720-0745.

Note: This section lists names and addresses of the office at the headquarters level with direct operational responsibility for managing a program. A telephone number is provided in cases where a Regional or Local Office is not normally able to answer detailed inquiries concerning a program. Also listed are the name(s) and telephone number(s) of the information contact person(s) who can provide additional program information to applicants.

Additional Contact Information (Appendix IV)

Due to the large volume of regional and local office contacts for most agencies, full contact information is also provided separately here in a PDF format: