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USDA Announces Plan To Make Federal Money Available For Farmland Protection



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USDA Announces Plan To Make Federal Money Available For Farmland Protection

TOLLAND — The US Department of Agriculture has announced a plan to solicit proposals for participation in the Federal Farmland Protection Program. The plan would make federal monies available to help communities purchase conservation easements on farmland.

Funds were provided by provisions in the Agricultural Risk Protection Act of 2000. The program will be implemented by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

“Nationally, $30 million will be available to cost-share with communities to purchase conservation easements that will protect farmland,” said Connecticut NRCS State Conservationist Margo L. Wallace.

“We must treat the land itself as our most precious commodity,” Ms Wallace said. “As our cities continue to grow into neighboring rural areas, more farmland is in danger. Once developed, productive farmland with rich topsoil will be lost forever.”

To participate in the program, landowners agree to limit the use of their land for nonagricultural purposes and have pending offers for acquisition of agricultural conservation easements with a non-governmental organization, or state, tribal, or local farmland protection program.

Qualifying farmland must be included in a pending offer from a non-governmental organization, state, tribe, or local farmland protection program; privately owned; covered by a conservation plan; large enough to sustain agriculture production; accessible to markets for what the land produces; and surrounded by parcels of land that can support long-term agricultural protection.

A request for proposals was published in the Federal Register on January 22, 2001, and is posted on the Web at www.nrcs.usda.gov.

In Connecticut, NRCS will be responsible for evaluating statewide proposals. They will be submitted to the national office in Washington, D.C., for final ranking and review; and will then compete nationally for a portion of the $30 million.

“Time is running out to preserve Connecticut’s agricultural lands,” said Ms Wallace. “Leveraging these dollars will make our state and local funds go further and protect more farms.”

Proposals should be sent by March 8, 2001, to:

Margo L. Wallace, State Conservationist, USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service, 344 Merrow Road, Suite A, Tolland, CT 06084-3917.

For more information, contact Kip Kolesinskas, State Soil Scientist, at 860/871-4047.

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