The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Alabama and Georgia encourages producers and eligible partners to learn more about the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). Created through the 2014 Farm Bill and reauthorized in the 2018 Farm Bill, ACEP is a program with two components, Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) and Wetlands Reserve Easements (WRE).
ACEP-WRE applications are accepted directly from producers on eligible lands. These easements will restore and enhance wetlands and improve habitat. Eligible lands include farmed, prior converted or forested wetlands that can be successfully and cost-effectively restored. Applications will be ranked according to the easement’s potential for protecting and enhancing habitat for migratory birds, fish and other wildlife.
Applications for the ACEP-ALE are accepted from eligible partners. These eligible entities may submit proposals to NRCS to acquire a conservation easement on eligible agricultural land. NRCS does not accept applications for ACEP-ALE directly from producers. Producers will need to work with an eligible entity to pursue funding for an ACEP-ALE conservation easement. Some examples of eligible entities include county Board of Commissioners, Land Trusts and Land Conservancies.
Approved ACEP-ALE easements would prevent productive working lands from being converted to non-agricultural uses and maximize protection of land devoted to food production. Cropland, rangeland, grassland, pastureland and nonindustrial private forestland are eligible.
Contact your local USDA Service Center to learn more.