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Farmland Studies     <BACK


Federal legislation exists to protect farmland from conversion to non-agricultural uses. The two federal laws that protect farmland are the Farmland Protection Policy Act (FPPA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969. The following is a brief description of how these regulations protect farmland.

Federally, farmland is directly protected by the FPPA. This act protects land defined by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) as prime farmland, unique farmland, and additional farmland of statewide or local importance. The FPPA protects farmland by regulating the use of land composed of valuable farmland soils for federally funded projects, which includes land that is not in active agricultural use. Prime farmland is identified by the Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) as land that combines the best physical and chemical characteristics for farming. Unique farmland is land that successfully yields crops that are not common to the local area. Farmlands of statewide and local importance are areas that have been designated by the State Rural Development Committee or a local agency.

Compliance with FPPA will be summarized in the project's Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). In the case of farmlands, the PA 23 EIS must either prove that the project does not significantly affect farmlands or justify using farmlands for federal development purposes and explain all reasonable measures taken to minimize those effects.


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