The importance of farmlands to the national and local economy requires the consideration of the impact of activities on land adjacent to prime or unique farmlands. The purpose of the Farmland Protection Policy Act (7 U.S.C. 4201 et seq, implementing regulations 7 CFR Part 658, of the Agriculture and Food Act of 1981, as amended) is to minimize the effect of Federal programs on the unnecessary and irreversible conversion of farmland to nonagricultural uses.
The Act does not apply to projects already in or committed to urban development or those that could otherwise not convert farmland to non-agricultural uses. However, land that meets the definition of prime or unique farmlands or is determined to be of statewide or local significance (with concurrence by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture) is subject to the Act. In some states agricultural lands are protected from development by agricultural districting, zoning provisions, or special tax districts.
Does your project include any activities, including new construction, acquisition of undeveloped land, or conversion, that could potentially convert one land use to another? Federal projects are subject to FPPA requirements if they may irreversibly convert farmland to a non-agricultural use. A finding of compliance with the requirements of the Farmland Protection Policy Act of 1981 (7 U.S.C. 4201 et seq.) must be made for assisted new construction activities, the acquisition of undeveloped land, and conversion projects.
If so, does your project meet one of the following exemptions?
Farmland subject to FPPA requirements does not have to be currently used for cropland. USDA/NRCS regulations contained at 7 CFR Part 658.2 define “committed to urban development” as land with a density of 30 structures per 40-acre area; lands identified as ‘‘urbanized area’’ (UA) on the Census Bureau Map or as urban area mapped with a ‘‘tint overprint’’ on USGS topographical maps; or as ‘‘urban-built-up’’ on the USDA Important Farmland Maps. Note that land “zoned” for development, i.e. non-agricultural use, does not exempt a project from compliance with the FPPA.
If not, does “Important Farmland,” including prime farmland, unique farmland, or farmland of statewide or local importance regulated under the FPPA occur on the project site?
Important Farmland includes prime farmland, unique farmland, and/or land of statewide or local importance. (7 CFR 658.2(a)).
Use the following resources to determine whether Important Farmland is present:
If so, consider alternatives to completing the project on Important Farmland and means of avoiding impacts to Important Farmland.
Complete form AD-1006, “Farmland Conversion Impact Rating” and contact the state soil scientist before sending it to the local NRCS District Conservationist. Preparers of HUD environmental review records must complete Parts I, III, VI, and VII of form AD-1006. NRCS will complete Parts II, IV, and V of the form. Part VII combined scores over 160 points require the evaluation of at least one alternative project site. NRCS has 45 days to make a determination. NRCS will return form AD-1006 to you. Corridor projects that go over several tracts, such as railroads, utility lines, highways, etc, require completion of form NRCS-CPA-106 .
Environmental review record preparers must follow the steps below to complete the farmland conversion impact rating process:
The environmental review record should contain one of the following: