Two more farms are now enrolled in a federal program designed to help farmers protect environmentally sensitive areas. Cathy Engstrom of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation says the program created by the U-S-D-A is known as the Farmland Protection Program (FPP). She says the program places a conservation easement on land, which she says restricts it from being developed, but allows the land to still be farmed. In the latest case, the program will protect the Mark and Kay Crowl farm and the Steve and Denise Bartel farm. She says the Crowl farm is in Woodbury, and the Bartel farm is in Monona County. Both farms are adjacent to the Loess Hills. Engstrom says the easement allows the two families to continue farming, while ensuring there’ll never be any development on the land. She says it’s another tool to help preserve important land areas. She says not everyone wants the land to go into public ownership. She says the drawback is that the plan requires state money, and the state of Iowa hasn’t dedicated any money to the plan. She says the farm families are paid for the easement on the 350 acres of land involved. She says the value of the easement is based on the appraised value of the land given up. She says the feds pay half of the amount, the owners donated some of the amount, and conservation groups in the state have been able to raise some of the other money. Engstrom says they have two more farms on the list to go into the program. She says the first easement was closed in October in Plymouth County, and they hope to get the final two later this year. Engstrom says the federal match for the latest two farms was 278-thousand dollars.
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