Dane County Nets Federal Farm Cost-Sharing Help
July 31, 2006
Joanne Haas, Office of the County Executive (608) 267-8823 or cell (608) 669-5606
Dane County efforts to protect agricultural lands from the pressures of urban sprawl got a more than $700,000 boost this month from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and its Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program.
For the second consecutive year, the federal government has accepted Dane County’s application for federal cost-sharing funds. This year’s total is $717,946 for the purchase of development rights on certain farmlands along U.S. Highway 12 between Middleton and Sauk City.
“Protecting Dane County’s agricultural acres also means protecting our food supply, our economy and our heritage,” Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk said. “The county’s goal is to purchase the development rights to guarantee the lands are protected from development pressure.”
Pat Leavenworth, State Conservationist with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, said the program has been key in preserving ag lands.
“Farmers participate voluntarily to preserve the land for farming through a conservation easement,” Leavenworth said. “In Wisconsin, we have helped preserve more than 10,000 acres for agriculture in 11 different counties through this program.”
The dollars the county will use to match the federal funds will come from the $5 million provided by the state to Dane County for the recent Highway 12 renovations between Middleton and Sauk City.
Since the federal government began the program in 1996, nearly 280,000 acres of farm and ranch lands have been protected in 32 states. The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides up to 50 percent of the appraised fair market value of the conservation easement in the voluntary program.
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