Deadline Set for Florida Land Protection Program

Josh McGillLand

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) announced that landowners can apply online to the state’s Rural and Family Lands Protection Program (RFLPP) until 5 p.m. on July 27. The department will review the applications for eligibility.

protection program

The program, which partners with farmers and ranchers through conservation easements, aims to safeguard working agricultural operations.

“Florida’s agricultural lands are the backbone of our economy and the foundation of our food and fiber production. The Rural and Family Lands Protection Program plays a crucial role in preserving these vital resources for future generations,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Wilton Simpson.

Established in 2001 with the passage of the Rural and Family Lands Protection Act, the program has successfully acquired conservation easements on nearly 69,000 acres of working agricultural land.

Urban development is increasingly threatening agricultural lands. To counter this trend, the RFLPP coordinates with farmers and ranchers to ensure sustainable production practices while protecting natural resources.

Recently, Florida’s governor and cabinet approved the preservation of approximately 18,279 acres of working agricultural land through conservation easements totaling $57.6 million. The nine conservation easements marked the most acquisitions in the history of the program to be approved at a meeting of the governor and cabinet.

The governor and cabinet also voted to adopt an amendment to refine the rules that outline the procedures of the RFLPP. The changes will make the process more streamlined and user friendly for both applicants to the RFLPP and managers of the program. Additionally, participants will now be required to enroll in the department’s agricultural Best Management Practices Program.

Simpson was involved in Florida’s land conservation policy issues long before becoming the state’s commissioner of agriculture. As Senate president, he worked on legislation and budget issues to protect the state’s natural resources. For the 2022–23 fiscal year, Simpson secured more than $300 million for the RFLPP.

A map of all completed Rural and Family Lands Protection Program projects can be viewed here.

Source: FDACS

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