To examine the impact of the federal Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP), American Farmland Trust (AFT) initiated a study based on interviews with participating landowners. AFT collaborated with Dr. J. Dixon Esseks at the Center for Great Plains Studies of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
This research shows how important it is to keep maintain healthy government participation in agricultural conservation efforts.
The research shows that the FRPP:
1. Keeps land available for agriculture
- 96 percent of landowners said that at least some of their protected land was in active agricultural use, and nearly half said that all of their protect land was in production.
- 70 percent of owners are farmers, and the proportion of producers is higher among those who purchase protected farms.
2. Improves agricultural viability
- 84 percent of landowners who sold easements invested at least some of the proceeds in their operations or agricultural land.
- Easement proceeds spent on agricultural purposes tended to be spent locally, bolstering the entire agricultural sector in communities with protected farms.
3. Encourages on-farm conservation
- 75 percent reported the application of at least one conservation practice.
- Among those who initated practices since the execution of the easements saves threatened agricultural land and keeps it available for agriculture. The study also documents how the program improves agricultural viability, encourages on-farm conservation and helps farmers gain access to land.
- 20 percent used proceeds from the easement sale to install or expand conservation practices.
4. Helps farmers gain access to land
- 55 percent of landowners who sold easements spent proceeds repaying loans on farm and ranch land they already owned or buying additional agricultural land.
- 65 percent of landowners who had purchased protected land said the price was lowers than comparable unprotected land.
- 69 percent of the owners with succession plans said the next owner would be a farmer.