Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science/Master of Community and Regional Planning


Community and Regional Planning


Sustainable Agriculture

First Advisor

Gary Taylor


Farmland preservation works to protect working, productive farmland. The Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP) is a federal program that provides matching funds to state, local, non-profit, and private entities that purchase agricultural conservation easements. This research uses a combination of in-depth qualitative interviews and spatial analysis with ArcGIS software to determine what factors influenced participation in FRPP prior to the 2014 Farm Bill. Interviews were conducted with program administrators, non-profit partner entities, and experts in federal agricultural policy. Spatial analysis used six federally-mandated criteria to determine what types of parcels score highest on federal ranking criteria if they were to be applied to Iowa; Story County and Bremer County were chosen as case study counties to be analyzed at the parcel level. Results demonstrate that the availability of matching funds, partner entity capacity, and partner entity focus all play a role in program participation. Results also showed that negative public perceptions about permanent easements and tensions among program partners can affect FRPP participation and implementation. Results of the spatial analysis indicated that federally-mandated ranking criteria do not significantly limit where an FRPP easement can be placed as long as the site has enough prime farmland and agricultural land to qualify for the program.


Copyright Owner

Julie Whitson



File Format


File Size

97 pages