The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Florida has announced they are accepting applications from agricultural producers and forest landowners for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). While NRCS does accept ACEP applications year-round, producers and landowners should apply by December 31, 2021 to be considered for funding in the current cycle.
ACEP provides financial and technical assistance to help conserve agricultural lands and wetlands and their related benefits. Under the Agricultural Land Easements component, NRCS helps Indian tribes, state and local governments and non-governmental organizations protect working agricultural lands and limit non-agricultural uses of the land. Under the Wetlands Reserve Easements component, NRCS helps restore, protect, and enhance enrolled wetlands.
“This is a great opportunity to combat the climate crisis and conserve Florida’s lands, biodiversity, and natural resources,” said Juan Hernandez, NRCS Florida State Conservationist.
Land protected by agricultural land easements provides additional public benefits, including environmental quality, historic preservation, wildlife habitat and protection of open space. Wetland Reserve Easements provide habitat for fish and wildlife, including threatened and endangered species, improve water quality by filtering sediments and chemicals, reduce flooding, recharge groundwater, protect biological diversity and provide opportunities for educational, scientific, and limited recreational activities.
To apply for ACEP, contact NRCS at your local USDA Service Center.