In an effort to protect rural lands from development the Florida Department of Agriculture is investing $35-million in its Rural and Family Lands Protection Program.
The program helps rural land owners protect their land from development, while maintaining a family’s ability to use that land for low impact agriculture. Aaron Keller is a spokesman for the department.
“The most recent farm that became part of this program was actually family owned since the 1860s. So really this is a way to help those family owned agriculture operations, one to protect their land from development, but also to ensure that their way of life and their activities can remain,” Keller says.
Keller says the program can be an important tool to help conserve precious habitats.
“There are many, many participants in this program in the Northern Everglades watershed. So that has obviously important benefits for water recharge and filtering of the water as it’s coming down through that watershed,” Keller says.
And Keller says the program keeps those conservation lands on the tax roll, meaning they’ll continue to generate revenue to help pay for things like fire departments. Officials are accepting applications for the program through May 16.