Let a Conservation Easement Protect Your Agricultural Land in Florida

Will Jordan General


Agricultural landowners in Florida are being reminded if you want to protect the integrity of your property, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) hopes you will consider a conservation easement.

Applications for these easements are accepted year-round, but applying for Fiscal Year 2024 funding is being accepted until December 31, 2023.

The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) protects the agricultural viability and related conservation values of eligible land by limiting nonagricultural uses which negatively affect agricultural uses and conservation values. The ACEP protects grazing uses and related conservation values by restoring or conserving eligible grazing land, and it also protects, restores and enhances wetlands on eligible land.

The Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) component funds permanent agricultural land easements that not only protect the future of the nation’s food supply, but also support environmental quality, wildlife habitat, and historic preservation and protection of open spaces. Landowner applicants who are interested must apply through an eligible entity – such as a land trust, municipality, or State agencies.

Under the Wetland Reserve Easement (WRE) component, landowners may apply directly to NRCS for a conservation easement to restore wetlands impacted by agriculture. A WRE will 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, provide resilience to climate change, and provide opportunities for limited re creational activities.

To learn more, see NRCS at your local USDA Service Center. Or, you can contact Crenel Francis, crenel.francis@usda.gov to apply for ACEP-WRE and Sara May, sara.may2@usda.gov for information on ACEP-ALE.