Funding is available to

Protect Upstate Farmland

Do you have farmland you would like to protect forever?

Our nationally accredited land trust was recently awarded more than $3.9 million in funding to protect farmland through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program and is seeking interested landowners to participate. Eligibility is based on prime farmland soils, amount of open lands, and farm ownership status. Property owners must be willing to maintain their property as a farm permanently through a conservation easement in order to receive funding. 

Properties most likely to qualify are those of 100+ acres in Upstate Forever’s ten-county service area, which includes Abbeville, Anderson, Cherokee, Greenville, Greenwood, Laurens, Oconee, Pickens, Spartanburg and Union. Smaller properties may be considered if enough of the tract contains prime soils (having physical and chemical characteristics as determined by the USDA). 

To see if you qualify, contact Land Conservation Specialist Caitlyn Gendusa at cgendusa@upstateforever.org or call Upstate Forever’s Greenville office at (864) 250-0500.


Frequently asked questions

What is the Regional Conservation Partnership Program? 

  • Upstate Forever was selected to receive a Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) award from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in the amount of more than $3.9 million to support local conservation efforts through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). 
  • Funding from this program can be used to permanently protect farms, pastures, croplands, agricultural neighborhoods, equestrian areas, and watershed lands across the Upstate. 
  • Upstate Forever is currently the only land trust in South Carolina enrolled in this partnership with NRCS.

How does the funding process work?

  • Eligibility is based on prime farmland soils, amount of open lands, and farm ownership status. Property owners must be willing to maintain their property as a farm permanently through a conservation easement in order to receive funding.
  • Interested landowners can learn whether their property qualifies by contacting Upstate Forever and providing their property’s tax map number. One of Upstate Forever’s Land Trust team members will see if your farm matches federal criteria to qualify for the program.
  • If a property qualifies, and the landowner is interested in proceeding, Upstate Forever will guide the landowner through the conservation easement process that ultimately offers the landowner payment to keep the property in farm use.

What makes a property most likely to be eligible for protection by Upstate Forever through this program?

  • Farmland of 100 acres or more in Upstate Forever’s ten-county service area, which includes Abbeville, Anderson, Cherokee, Greenville, Greenwood, Laurens, Oconee, Pickens, Spartanburg and Union
  • Farmland of fewer than 100 acres (in the same counties listed above) may also be eligible if it includes:
    • Prime farmland soils or soils of statewide importance, or
    • Active cropland and/or pastureland on more than 35% of the property.

How does the conservation easement process work?

Upstate Forever is an accredited land trust and follows a standard conservation easement process recognized by the USDA in order to use these funds. 

  • The conservation easement process includes many typical steps of a property transaction, including an appraisal, title review, and a closing with an attorney. 
  • One distinction is the inclusion of a conservation easement, which integrates the conservation easement language in to the landowner's future plans for the farm. 
  • Upstate Forever doesn’t own property, but we steward the conservation easement to make sure the original landowner’s wishes are met, even when the property is sold, inherited, or donated. Public access is not required for a conservation easement if it is against the landowner’s wishes. Yearly stewardship also ensures the farmland is preserved for future generations. 
  • The process for one conservation easement takes about 18 months from start to finish. This NRCS partnership is active for only five years — another reason we encourage interested landowners to contact us immediately. To see if you qualify, contact Land Conservation Specialist Caitlyn Gendusa at cgendusa@upstateforever.org or call Upstate Forever’s Greenville office at (864) 250-0500.

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