MORGANTOWN — The original sign-up period for eligible entities to apply for fiscal year 2014 Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program has been extended, according to Kevin Wickey, state conservationist for the United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Eligible state, county and nonprofit entities should submit their applications by Feb. 14, to the West Virginia NRCS State Office in Morgantown.
The voluntary protection program allows farmers to preserve their agricultural land for future generations to use. The program provides matching funds to farmland protection entities to purchase perpetual conservation easements on private farmland, which ensures agricultural use of the land.
USDA-NRCS provides up to 50 percent of the appraised fair market value of the conservation easement. The applying entity matches the USDA-NRCS amount, which can include the use of landowner donations. Eligible land includes private land that contains qualifying soils, unique resources and is predominately nonforest agricultural land. The landowner retains ownership and continues to use the land for agricultural purposes, as outlined in the terms of the conservation easement.
Landowners interested in protecting their land through a Farmland Protection Conservation Easement should contact their local NRCS office, county Farmland Protection Board or the West Virginia Agricultural Land Protection Authority. Contact information for NRCS local offices can be found at wv.nrcs.usda.gov. Your local county Farmland Protection Board and the Authority can be contacted through the wvfarmlandprotection.org.