United States Code

USC most recently checked for updates: Jul 24, 2024

§ 4201.
General provisions
Congressional statement of findings
Congress finds that—
the Nation’s farmland is a unique natural resource and provides food and fiber necessary for the continued welfare of the people of the United States;
each year, a large amount of the Nation’s farmland is irrevocably converted from actual or potential agricultural use to non­agricultural use;
continued decrease in the Nation’s farmland base may threaten the ability of the United States to produce food and fiber in sufficient quantities to meet domestic needs and the demands of our export markets;
the extensive use of farmland for non­agricultural purposes undermines the economic base of many rural areas;
Federal actions, in many cases, result in the conversion of farmland to nonagricultural uses where alternative actions would be preferred;
the Department of Agriculture is the agency primarily responsible for the implementation of Federal policy with respect to United States farmland, assuring the maintenance of the agricultural production capacity of the United States, and has the personnel and other resources needed to implement national farmland protection policy; and
the Department of Agriculture and other Federal agencies should take steps to assure that the actions of the Federal Government do not cause United States farmland to be irreversibly converted to nonagricultural uses in cases in which other national interests do not override the importance of the protection of farmland nor otherwise outweigh the benefits of maintaining farmland resources.
Statement of purpose

The purpose of this chapter is to minimize the extent to which Federal programs contribute to the unnecessary and irreversible conversion of farmland to nonagricultural uses, and to assure that Federal programs are administered in a manner that, to the extent practicable, will be compatible with State, unit of local government, and private programs and policies to protect farmland.

As used in this chapter—
the term “farmland” includes all land defined as follows:
prime farmland is land that has the best combination of physical and chemical characteristics for producing food, feed, fiber, forage, oilseed, and other agricultural crops with minimum inputs of fuel, fertilizer, pesticides, and labor, and without intolerable soil erosion, as determined by the Secretary. Prime farmland includes land that possesses the above characteristics but is being used currently to produce livestock and timber. It does not include land already in or committed to urban development or water storage;
unique farmland is land other than prime farmland that is used for production of specific high-value food and fiber crops, as determined by the Secretary. It has the special combination of soil quality, location, growing season, and moisture supply needed to economically produce sustained high quality or high yields of specific crops when treated and managed according to acceptable farming methods. Examples of such crops include citrus, tree nuts, olives, cranberries, fruits, and vegetables; and
farmland, other than prime or unique farmland, that is of statewide or local importance for the production of food, feed, fiber, forage, or oilseed crops, as determined by the appropriate State or unit of local government agency or agencies, and that the Secretary determines should be considered as farmland for the purposes of this chapter;
the term “State” means any of the fifty States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, or any territory or possession of the United States;
the term “unit of local government” means the government of a county, municipality, town, township, village, or other unit of general government below the State level, or a combination of units of local government acting through an areawide agency under State law or an agreement for the formulation of regional development policies and plans;
the term “Federal program” means those activities or responsibilities of a department, agency, independent commission, or other unit of the Federal Government that involve (A) undertaking, financing, or assisting construction or improvement projects; or (B) acquiring, managing, or disposing of Federal lands and facilities. The term “Federal program” does not include construction or improvement projects that on the effective date of this chapter are beyond the planning stage and are in either the active design or construction state; and
the term “Secretary” means the Secretary of Agriculture.
(Pub. L. 97–98, title XV, § 1540, Dec. 22, 1981, 95 Stat. 1341.)
cite as: 7 USC 4201