Farmland preservation funding opportunity

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COLUMBUS –The federal Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program, administered by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, is now accepting applications for funding.

Organizations with an eligible farmland preservation program can apply for the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program, which provides up to half of the appraised fair market value of the farm’s preservation easement.

While the program offers a continuous sign-up, eligible entities must submit applications by March 1 to receive consideration for funding in fiscal year 2010. Funds must be obligated by April 1.

According to Matthew Harbage, who coordinates the program for NRCS in Ohio, applications must come from “eligible entities,” which include state, tribal or local governments as well as nongovernment organizations that meet specific requirements.

Requirements

These agencies must have an established farm and ranch land protection program, and the authority to hold and manage easements. They must also provide funds to match the federal contribution.

At least 50 percent of the easement’s appraised fair market value must be provided by the applicant.

Landowners may accept less than the appraised fair market value of the easement; the difference between the appraised value and the purchase price the landowners are willing to accept is considered a landowner donation.

All applicant entities and landowners will be evaluated to confirm eligibility. Individual parcels will be evaluated for eligibility and quality; the highest quality parcels for which the Ohio Natural Resources Conservation Service state office has funding will be selected and funded.

Ranking and selection of parcels will take place immediately after the March 1 deadline.

More information

For more information and an electronic copy of the application for 2010, contact Harbage at 614-255-2461 or matthew.harbage@oh.usda.gov or visit www.oh.nrcs.usda.gov/.

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