Signup starts for ag land conservation easements
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is now accepting applications for its new Agricultural Conservation Easements Program (ACEP).
This program, created under the 2014 Farm Bill, provides funding for the purchase of conservation easements to help conserve agricultural lands and wetlands and their related benefits.
“This is an exciting new opportunity for owners and operators of agricultural land to get involved in conserving natural resources,” said Nebraska state conservationist Craig Derickson. “We encourage Indian tribes, state and local governments, non-governmental organizations and private landowners to contact their local NRCS office to find out how to apply.”
According to Derickson, the main goal of ACEP is to prevent productive working lands from being converted to non-agricultural uses and protect land devoted to food production and wildlife habitat. Cropland, rangeland, grassland, pastureland and nonindustrial private forestland are eligible.
Applications are currently being accepted for wetlands reserve easements and will be rated according to the easement’s potential for protecting and enhancing habitat for migratory birds, fish and other wildlife. Eligible applicants will be compensated with a payment rate comparable to the local land use value. Nebraska ACEP payment rate information is available on the Nebraska NRCS website. (see attached map)
Applications can be submitted at any time, but to be considered for 2014 funding opportunities, applications must be received by June 6. Applicants will need to provide accurate records of ownership and ensure they have established a record of ownership with USDA’s Farm Service Agency. Application information is available at your local USDA Service Center and at www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted.
“NRCS staff will work with all interested applicants to help them through the application process and provide one-on-one assistance to create the conservation easement that works best for their farming operation,” Derickson said.
For more information about the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the programs and services it provides, visit your local USDA Service Center or www.ne.nrcs.usda.gov.