In 2004, the USDA Natural Resouces Conservation Service asked American Farmland Trust (AFT) to evaluate the effectiveness of the federal Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP), a voluntary federal conservation program that provides matching funds to eligible entities to buy permanent conservation easements on farm and ranch land. AFT contracted with Dr. J. Dixon Esseks at the Center for Great Plains Studies of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) to conduct a survey of 422 FRPP participants.
The UNL research team found that:
1. The FRPP protects threatened agricultural land;
2. Land protected by the FRPP is in active agricultural use;
3. Income from easement sales is reinvested in farms and ranches;
4. Protected agricultural land provides fresh local food, scenic views and recreational opportunities;
5. Farm and ranch lands protected by the FRPP are well-managed; and
6. Landowners are satisfied with the program.