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.
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.
- 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 lower than comparable unprotected land.
- 69 percent of the owners with succession plans said the next owner would be a farmer.