Landowners with at least 40 acres of farmland located in rural Dakota County, within a half-mile of a river or lake or adjacent to protected land, with at least 75 percent prime soils, and that are at least 50 percent farmed are eligible to participate in the agricultural protection component of the Farmland and Natural Areas Program.
The Farmland and Natural Areas Program (FNAP) accepts applications for farmland protection year-round, with annual deadlines for submittal, prior to project evaluation, approved by the County Board. Every eligibility requirement in the following list must be met for a farmland application to be accepted into the process.
1. Locally zoned and planned for agriculture. The property must be located in an area currently zoned for a maximum of 1 unit per 40 acres (1/40; quarter/quarter). The agricultural use must also be consistent with the township or city comprehensive land use plan policies.
2. Regionally planned for agriculture. The property must be located outside the Metropolitan Council's 2030 Municipal Urban Services Area (MUSA).
3. Agricultural use of parcel. A majority of the property must be classified as agricultural by the Dakota County Assessor.
4. Landowner commitment to farming. The property must be currently enrolled in the Metropolitan Agricultural Preserve Program or Green Acres program, or the landowner must commit to enrolling prior to selling a conservation easement under this program.
5. Quality of farmland. The quality of the farmland will be evaluated only for those areas of the property that have a history of agricultural use. At least 75 percent of the area with a history of agricultural use must be classified as category 1 or 2 soils by the Natural Resource Conservation Service soils survey, or have irrigation infrastructure, or a combination.
6. Minimum size. The property, containing one or more parcels, must contain at least 40 acres or a quarter-quarter section with at least half of the property in active agricultural use (e.g., crops, pastures). Property of lesser size may be considered if they are shown to contribute to a contiguous greenway or farming area.
7. Water quality benefits. Some portion of the property must be within ½-mile of designated rivers and streams on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources protected water inventory as identified on the Farmland and Natural Area Map. It is preferred that farms with natural areas include the natural areas as part of the property in the application. Farmland that is not within one-half mile of identified streams and rivers is eligible if the property is adjacent to already protected land. See the Eligibility Map.