Richmond, January 9, 2017 – USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is now accepting applications from Virginia landowners and governmental and non-governmental groups interested in protecting the state’s working farms through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP).
This signup is limited to the Agricultural Land Easement (ALE) component of this 2014 Farm Bill program, and focuses on saving productive crop, grass, pasture, and nonindustrial private forestland from conversion to non-agricultural uses. Though applications are accepted on a continual basis, eligible entities who wish to be considered for this ranking period must submit full ALE application packages by February 10, 2017.
NRCS is making $1,992,193 available for ALE easements this year. Landowners must work with an eligible partner who then applies for ALE. Eligible partners include state and local governments and non-governmental organizations that have farmland or grassland protection programs. Under ALE, NRCS may contribute up to 50 percent of the fair market value of the agricultural land easement.
“We all benefit when we work together to preserve Virginia’s productive working lands,” said Virginia State Conservationist Jack Bricker. “Agricultural land easements protect our food supply and support environmental quality, wildlife habitat, historic preservation, and protection of open spaces. Last year, we received 13 additional ACEP applications. We’re looking forward to another great year in 2017.”