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ACEP - Agricultural Land Easements (ALE)

ACEP - ALE

NRCS provides financial assistance to eligible partners for purchasing Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) 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 Indian tribes, state and local governments and non-governmental organizations that have farmland or grassland protection programs.

Under the ALE component, NRCS may contribute up to 50 percent of the fair market value of the agricultural land easement. 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. For Fiscal Year 2014, the applicant will need to describe how the grassland offered for enrollment fits the definition of Grassland of Special Environmental Significance (ALE-GSS). Easement values for ALE are based on a fair market appraisal.

Eligibility

Land eligible for agricultural easements includes 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.

To enroll land through Agricultural Land Easements, NRCS enters into cooperative agreements with eligible partners (tribes, state and local governments, and non-governmental organizations that have farm or grassland protection programs). Each easement is required to have an agricultural land easement plan that promotes the long-term viability of the land.

Request for a Partial Waiver of the Entity Cash Contribution for an ALE Easement

The Federal share provided by NRCS for enrollment in the ALE component of the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) shall not exceed 50 percent of the fair market value of the agricultural land easement.  The eligible entity must provide a non-Federal share that is at least equivalent to the NRCS share.  This non-Federal share may be comprised in part of a landowner donation and cash resources.  At a minimum, the eligible entity must contribute 50 percent of the NRCS contribution with cash resources.

However, an eligible entity may request a further reduction in the cash contribution requirement to either 25 percent or 10 percent of the NRCS share, if the parcel is:

1. Of special significance,

2. Subject to an increase in the private landowner donation that is equal to the amount of the waiver, if the landowner donation is voluntary, and

3. In active agricultural production.

  • A reduction in cash resources to a 10% level of the NRCS contribution can be requested in states where a state government offers a tax credit for a qualified donation on agricultural land.  If the request is to reduce the cash contribution requirement to 10 percent of the NRCS share, then the request must include the name and legal citation to the State Tax Credit Program.

A partial waiver of the eligible entity cash contribution requirement cannot result in an increase in the NRCS share.  Waivers are considered on an individual parcel basis and eligible entities must submit one waiver request per parcel. 

How to Apply

For Fiscal Year 2014 funding consideration*, applications are due June 6, 2014

To enroll agricultural land easements, eligible partners must submit the respective applications listed below to the NRCS California State Office.

United States Dept of Agriculture
Natural Resources Conservation Service
430 G St. #4164
Davis, CA 95616-4164

Application Forms & Supplemental Information:
These documents require Acrobat Reader.

*Entities can submit ACEP-ALE applications at anytime, to the NRCS State Office, for future funding consideration.

For more information contact:

Dean Kwasny, Easement Programs Specialist
Phone: (530) 792-5648
Email:  dean.kwasny@ca.usda.gov

Michael Bilancione, Realty Specialist
Phone: (530) 792-5666
Email: michael.bilancione@ca.usda.gov

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