Farm land is not the first image that comes to mind when thinking about conservation land. There are two aspects to conservation on agricultural land. The first involves programs that foster sustainable farming practices. The other provides financial incentives that keep agricultural land from being transferred into other uses.
Best Management Practices on agricultural land include protecting water resources from pollutants that can either cause contamination from slow buildup by long term usage or sudden accidental release. Other BMPs include the control and processing of animal waste; soil protection through grazing control, crop rotation, and nutrient management (lest we repeat the dust bowl); proper irrigation usage; silt management; and other methods that protect the land for future generations of farmers.
For more detailed information on farming BMPs see this September 2013 publication: http://gaswcc.georgia.gov/sites/gaswcc.georgia.gov/files/2013AgManual_Intro%2BCh1.pdf
The other aspect is the effort to keep agricultural land in use as agricultural land. For the last 40 years America has seen a decline in medium size family farms. There are a number of reasons for this but research indicates that one is that young people aren’t as willing to make the financial investment required, work 12-16 hours a day, and possibly earn less than a similarly situated farmer made 30 years ago. Family farmers also frequently have to work a non-farm job to make ends meet. One way to help farmers is to offer transferable tax incentives through conservation easements. These incentives can allow them to purchase equipment, provide a financial safety net, or pay off their land mortgage. We don’t currently hold any agricultural easements but we hope to have some soon. We want to be involved in helping preserve family farms. Please contact us with any questions or comments.