Rich in the cultural and historic fabric of our settlement and frontier periods, agricultural lands and their associated farm and barn buildings are an important component of the American landscape. The preservation of historic farms is beneficial to tourism and employment, as well as contributing to our knowledge of history and our architectural heritage. Restoring and maintaining historic farms can be expensive; however, there are a number of grants available to offset some of the costs.
Historic Barn Preservation Program Grants
Authorized as part of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, commonly called the farm bill, the historic barn preservation program provides grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to state historic preservation offices and national or state nonprofit organizations for the preservation and rehabilitation of historic barns. Funding is subject to annual congressional approval.
Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program
Grants offered by the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service to state and local governments, tribes, and nongovernmental organizations can be used to purchase conservation easements on farm and ranch lands to prevent conversion to nonagricultural uses. Historic farm buildings are often demolished to make way for residential development on formerly agricultural lands. Conservation easements pay the landowner to retain the historic setting of the farm structures as well as the structures themselves, removing a demolition threat and providing funding that can then be used in the preservation of the farm structures.
State Grants for Historic Farms
Recognizing the importance of historic farms to tourism, a dozen states provide grant programs to the owners of historic agricultural buildings for their restoration and repair. Many of the state programs also include assistance in identifying historic barns and farms through surveys and historical research.
Save America's Treasures Grants
The National Park Service provides grants from the Save America's Treasures Grants program to preserve historic properties. It can be used for farm structures. It focuses on properties that are of national significance and are endangered.
A broad array of general historic preservation grants, awarded through preservation organizations such as the National Trust for Historic Preservation, are available for the preservation of farms. The National Trust also serves as a clearinghouse for preservation grants of all types. Additionally, the National Park Service implements the 20 percent federal tax credit for the rehabilitation of historic buildings of all types. Because the dollar amount of the tax credit is unlimited, its value can easily exceed that of many grants.
- National Park Service: The Preservation of Historic Barns
- Advisory Council on Historic Preservation: Sources of Financial Assistance for Historic Preservation Projects
- Agriculture Online: State preservation programs
- National Trust for Historic Preservation: Financial Assistance
- National Park Service: Incentives
- Photo Credit Red Barn image by Jim Mills from Fotolia.com
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