Certification gets U.S. conservation easements on the ground faster
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The nation’s top easement program for protecting fertile agricultural land is making it easier for people to enroll land through advanced certification, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) press release.
The Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program is certifying eligible entities, such as states, organizations, or tribes, to place lands in this Farm Bill conservation easement program.
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service administers the program that has protected more than 2 million acres of the nation’s most valuable lands for the production of food, feed, and fiber since 1996.
This program provides matching funds to organizations to purchase conservation easements on private working lands.
State, tribal, or local governments and non-governmental organizations, as well as other entities that become certified, have more flexibility and a shorter process to acquire easements. Certified organizations may enter into longer-term cooperative agreements and conduct the program’s closings without prior submission of individual appraisals, deeds, or title documents for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service review.
To qualify for certification an eligible organization must hold, manage, and monitor a minimum of five of the program’s conservation easements. For a full list of the certification criteria, see the program’s web page.
Entities may apply for certification by submitting a letter of request and application materials to the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service’s state conservationist where they’re seeking certification at any time. Although this is a continuous application process, to be considered for the first certification round in the 2014 program year, applications must be received by Friday, Jan. 3, 2014.
These easements ensure that productive farms and ranches will be kept in agricultural uses forever.
For more information on the application materials required for certification, contact the Natural Resources Conservation Service Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program manager in your state or visit http://1.usa.gov/175sEUR.