USDA Provides $2.6 Million To Protect Farmland In Maryland
Baltimore County will receive $1.6 Million for five farms
REISTERSTOWN, MD, April 2008—Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer today announced that Maryland will receive $2.6 million in fiscal year 2008 to protect agricultural land through the federal Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP).
“Keeping the nation’s farm and ranch lands producing food and fiber is a high priority for the Bush Administration,” Schafer said at an Earth Day event at the Glenn Elseroad family farm. “This land will be protected by conservation easements and will be available for agricultural use forever.”
Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, administers FRPP. Maryland’s FRPP funding will be distributed to the Baltimore County Agricultural Land Preservation Program and the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy. The two agreements will protect 622 acres of farmland in Maryland. Baltimore County’s $1.6 million will protect 341 acres on five farms. The scenic and historic Elseroad farm will be acquired through the Baltimore County agreement.
The Eastern Shore Land Conservancy agreement covers 281 acres on a family farm in Talbot County, the second phase of this agricultural land preservation project. FRPP is one of several federal conservation programs used by Maryland farmers to improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
USDA-NRCS has made $50.2 million available for FRPP nationwide thus far this fiscal year, a portion of the program’s national allotment. Future funding is contingent upon the outcome of debate on the new farm bill. FRPP’s authority expires with the 2002 Farm Bill.
FRPP, authorized in the 1996 Farm Bill, has protected about 533,000 acres on 2,764 farms and ranches nationwide from 1996-2007. Since this period, USDA-NRCS has invested $536 million into this program across the country working with 348 cooperating entities. USDA-NRCS in Maryland has worked with 15 cooperating entities to protect about 35,000 acres on 257 farms through FRPP since its inception. Maryland has used more than $31 million in FRPP funds since 1996.
FRPP protects productive agricultural land by purchasing conservation easements to limit conversion of farm and ranch lands to non-agricultural uses. Using existing programs, USDA partners with State, tribal, or local governments and non-government organizations to acquire conservation easements or other interests in land from landowners. USDA provides up to 50 percent of the appraised fair market value of the conservation easement in this voluntary program. State and local entities can match that amount, including the use of landowner donations.
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