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Federal Policies

The Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, commonly know as the Farm Bill of 2002, has been the primary source of agricultural preservation developed by the federal government. This act created a specific Farmland Protection Program which focused on providing "funds to State, tribal, or local governments and to nonprofit organizations to help purchase easements against development of productive farmland" (USDA Economic Research Services). Over six years, the program allocated $597 million to be used for purchasing development rights from lands that had prime, unique, or productive soils, and/or historical or archaeological resources (USDA Economic Research Services). As of May 2008, a new Farm Bill was passed by the Senate with emphasis on crop subsidies, stricter qualification for payments, conservation programs, food stamps and nutritional programs, and international food aid. This proposed Farm Bill recommends a consolidation of certain programs in order to create more efficiency in the conservation process. The 2008 Farm Bill authorized $743 million through fiscal year 2012 for the federal Farmland Protection Program (American Farmland Trust).The proposed Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) would embrace a broader range of agricultural lands including cropland, grazing land, feeding operations, and agricultural production lands (US Department of Agriculture). The new Private Lands Protection Program, if implemented, would encompass three existing easement programs, FRPP, Healthy Forest Reserve Program (HFRP), and Grasslands Reserve Program (GRP) to reduce redundancies, administrative costs and consolidate funding. This new program would also seek to provide instruments to better monitor the purchased easements, award extra points to those applicants who provide public open space, and add time to the process of choosing candidates due to the reduced standards and regulations (US Department of Agriculture).

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