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News Release

Sign-up for ag land, wetland conservation easements begins - Deadline is June 6, 2014

Diane Baedeker Petit
413-253-4371, cell: 413-835-1276

A Berkshire County farm

Applications for new Farm Bill program due June 6th

Amherst, MA (May 14, 2014) – USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is now accepting applications for its new Agricultural Conservation Easements Program (ACEP). Created through the 2014 Farm Bill, ACEP funds easements for agricultural lands and wetland reserves.

“This is an exciting new opportunity for even more people to get involved in conserving natural resources,” said Massachusetts State Conservationist Christine Clarke. “We encourage Indian tribes, state and local governments, non-governmental organizations and private landowners to contact their local NRCS office to find out how to apply.”

Applications must be submitted to Massachusetts NRCS by June 6, 2014. Applications are available at local USDA Service Center and on the NRCS Massachusetts website. Agreements will be evaluated starting in late August.

Approved agricultural 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. 

Wetland reserve easements would restore and enhance wetlands and improve habitat. Eligible lands include farmed or converted wetlands that can be successfully and cost-effectively restored. Applications will be rated according to the easement’s potential for protecting and enhancing habitat for migratory birds, fish and other wildlife.

The ACEP combines NRCS’ former Farm and Ranch Lands Protection, Grassland Reserve and Wetlands Reserve programs. Learn more about ACEP and other Farm Bill programs on the NRCS Massachusetts website.