State purchases easements to protect working ag lands

By Staff Reports

Recently, the Governor and Cabinet gave their approval for the Florida agricultural land preservation and acquisition of approximately 18,279 acres of agricultural land. This was done through cost-effective conservation easements that amounted to $57,600,705.

These easements will prevent any future development of the land and allow agriculture operations to continue contributing to Florida’s economy. These operations are essential in the production of food, timber, and other resources that are crucial to the prosperity of the state.

Commissioner of Agriculture Wilton Simpson - Florida agricultural land preservation

Commissioner of Agriculture Wilton Simpson said, “These partnerships will increase the total land preserved by the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program to approximately 86,580 acres over 67 conservation easements. This is an incredible step forward for our program, and I am confident that it will only continue to grow.

Food security is a matter of national security, and by protecting and preserving these lands that have an immense amount of economic impact to food and agricultural production in our state, we are securing the livelihood of Florida.

Thanks to the Governor and my fellow Cabinet members as well as the landowners who are partnering with us on this program, we are working to ensure that 100 years from now we can still farm in the state of Florida.”

The nine properties are situated in the Florida Wildlife Corridor, which became a state law in 2021 under the Florida Wildlife Corridor Act.

Also at the recent Cabinet meeting, a modification to Rule 51-7, F.A.C. was passed, aimed at improving the guidelines for the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program. The amendment will simplify the process and enhance the experience for both program applicants and managers. Furthermore, the application form has been updated to include the Best Management Practices requirements.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services created the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program in 2001 to protect working agricultural lands threatened by other uses, such as development. ●


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