The farm bill supports access to farmland in Maine through some of its conservation programs, credit programs, and beginning and socially disadvantaged farmer programs. The following programs are examples of farm bill programs that are important to increasing farmland access in Maine.
Learn more about these programs:
Farm Bill Conservation Programs and Farmland Access
The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) helps private landowners, land trusts, and other entities obtain federal funding to protect and preserve working farms and ranches through the use of long-term easements. By removing the ability to develop the land, agricultural easements also allow the land to be sold to a next generation farmer at a more affordable price.
The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) provides farmers and ranchers with a yearly rental payment to remove environmentally sensitive land from production and plant resource-conserving land cover to protect soil, water, and wildlife habitat. In the coming years, millions of acres of land across the country are set to expire from the CRP program. In order to incentivize the transition of that land to new farmers, the CRP Transition Incentives Program (CRP-TIP) will provide two years of additional rental payments to owners of land that is currently enrolled in CRP but will soon be returned to production, if those owners rent or sell their land to beginning, socially disadvantaged or veteran farmers or ranchers who agree to use sustainable and resource-conserving agricultural practices.
Farm Bill Credit Programs and Farmland Access
The Farm Service Agency (FSA) Farm Loan Programs provides direct and guaranteed farm ownership and down payment loans to farmers and ranchers to increase access to farmland. The direct loans are made by FSA itself, while guaranteed loans are made by banks, credit unions, community development financial institutions, or other lenders, with the FSA guaranteeing against significant loss of either the loan principal or interest. Within these loan programs, there are set-asides for new farmers. Down Payment loans are a special form of Direct Farm Ownership loans that partially finance the purchase of a family-size farm or ranch by a beginning farmer or rancher and/or minority or woman applicants. The FSA also has a Microloan Program that provides a simplified application process for smaller loan amounts that can be used for land purchases.
Farm Bill Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program and Farmland Access
The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) is a program administered by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) that provides competitively awarded grants to academic institutions, state extension services, producer groups, and community organizations to support and train new farmers and ranchers across the country. MFT has received funding through this program to provide land access support and assistance.
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