Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
The Rural and Family Lands Protection Program is an agricultural land preservation program designed to protect important agricultural lands through the acquisition of permanent agricultural land conservation easements. The program is designed to meet three needs:
- Protect valuable agricultural lands.
- Create easement documents that work together with agricultural production to ensure sustainable agricultural practices and reasonable protection of the environment without interfering with agricultural operations in such a way that could put the continued economic viability of these operations at risk.
- Protect natural resources, not as the primary purpose, but in conjunction with the economically viable agricultural operations.
Originally created in 2001 with the passage of the Rural and Family Lands Protection Act, the program has successfully acquired the development rights of seven active agricultural operations, accepted the donation of an active silvicultural operation and the Florida Forest Service is currently in the process of acquiring easements over additional agricultural operations.
During the 2013 Legislative Session, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam expressed the need for additional funding for the program to help ensure the future of agriculture in the state. The Legislature listened and provided additional funding for the program and the Governor signed the bill that will help ensure that future generations of Floridians will have fresh agricultural products available to them. Partnering with other governmental agencies and nongovernmental agencies is a high priority and will enable the funding and protections to go further.
The Rural and Family Lands Protection Program is much different from Florida's Preservation 2000 and Florida Forever programs. While those programs focus on protecting and preserving the natural environment and providing nature-based recreational opportunities, the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program focuses on maintaining the agricultural land base in Florida. The program recognizes that a thriving rural economy with a strong agricultural base and viable rural communities is essential to Florida's future. Easements for this program will work together with agricultural production to ensure sustainable agricultural practices and reasonable protection of our natural resources. This program will protect agricultural lands in the path of development so that Florida will continue to maintain a viable agricultural sector in our state's economic base, so the citizens of Florida can continue to enjoy rural landscapes and open space, and in so doing provide simultaneous protection of environmentally significant areas.
- Agriculture and Resource Conservation Assessment [ ] of the Rural and Family Lands Protection Act report
- Rule Chapter 5I-7, F.A.C. for the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program