Cover photo for Agricultural Conservation Easement Program: Agricultural Land Easements

Agricultural Conservation Easement Program: Agricultural Land Easements (ACEP-ALE)

Natural Resources Conservation Service

About

The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) helps landowners, land trusts, and other entities protect, restore, and enhance wetlands, grasslands, and working farms and ranches through conservation easements. Under the Agricultural Land Easements component, NRCS helps American Indian tribes, state and local governments and non-governmental organizations protect working agricultural lands and limit non-agricultural uses of the land. 

**Benefits: **Agricultural Land Easements protect the long-term viability of the nation’s food supply by preventing conversion of productive working lands to non-agricultural uses. Land protected by agricultural land easements provides additional public benefits, including environmental quality, historic preservation, wildlife habitat and protection of open space.

**Agricultural Land Easements: **NRCS provides financial assistance to eligible partners for purchasing Agricultural Land Easements that protect the agricultural use and conservation values of eligible land. In the case of working farms, the program helps farmers and ranchers keep their land in agriculture. The program also protects grazing uses and related conservation values by conserving grassland, including rangeland, pastureland and shrubland. Eligible partners include American Indian tribes, state and local governments and non-governmental organizations that have farmland, rangeland or grassland protection programs.

ACEP also provides Easements to protect Wetlands through the ACEP Water Reserve Easement sub-program.

Eligibility

Eligible Landowners

  • Eligible partners include American Indian tribes, state and local governments and non-governmental organizations that have farmland, rangeland or grassland protection programs. 

  • Eligible landowners include owners of privately held land including land that is held by tribes and tribal members.

  • All landowners, including required members of landowner-legal entities, must meet adjusted gross income (AGI) limitations and must be compliant with the HEL/WC provisions of the Food Security Act of 1985.

Eligible Land

Land eligible for agricultural easements includes private or Tribal land that is agricultural land, cropland, rangeland, grassland, pastureland and nonindustrial private forest land. NRCS will prioritize applications that protect agricultural uses and related conservation values of the land and those that maximize the protection of contiguous acres devoted to agricultural use, including land on a farm or ranch.

Eligible Land Types and which also meets one of the four following land eligibility criteria:

  1. Parcels enrolled to protect Prime, Unique, or Other productive soil.

  2. Parcels enrolled to provide protection of grazing uses and related conservation values.

  3. Parcels containing historical or archeological resources.

  4. Land that furthers a state or local policy consistent with the purposes of ACEP-ALE.

Terms

NRCS provides financial assistance to eligible partners for purchasing Agricultural Land Easements that protect the agricultural use and conservation values of eligible land.

For working farms, the program helps farmers and ranchers keep their land in agriculture. Under the Agricultural Land Easement component, NRCS may contribute up to 50 percent of the fair market value of the agricultural land easement.

The program also protects grazing uses and related conservation values by conserving grassland, including rangeland, pastureland and shrubland. Where NRCS determines that grasslands of special environmental significance will be protected, NRCS may contribute up to 75 percent of the fair market value of the agricultural land easement.

Agricultural Land Easements are permanent or for the maximum term allowed by law.

Resources

Similar Programs

Details

Organization

Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)

Financial Instrument

Easement, Cost Share

Image Credit

NRCS Montana

Updated September 10, 2021

This information was gathered from public sources. Ambrook is not responsible for or able to affect the results of any financial programs listed, nor are they responsible for any incorrect information that is listed or is on the hyperlinked external sites. All information is subject to change.