New Easement Options For Illinois Farmers
Contact: Paige E. Buck, State Public Affairs Specialist
May 5, 2014
Champaign, IL— The new Farm Bill includes the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), a new conservation program that consolidates three former programs–the Wetlands Reserve Program, Grassland Reserve Program and Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program. NRCS’ new ‘super easement’ program provides financial and technical assistance in two different ways: to conserve working agricultural lands and create wetlands and their related benefits. According to Illinois’ State Conservationist Ivan Dozier, easement components help landowners protect and enhance enrolled lands. Interested parties must submit ACEP applications by June 6th, 2014.
Why are easements a good option to consider? The Ag Land Easements offer ways to protect the long-term viability of our nation’s food supply by preventing the conversion of productive working lands to non-agricultural uses. These lands provide important public benefits, including environmental quality, historic preservation, wildlife habitat and protection of open space. Using Wetland Reserve Easements will provide habitat for fish and wildlife, including threatened and endangered species. These easements improve water quality by filtering sediments and chemicals, reduce flooding, recharge groundwater, protect biological diversity and provide opportunities for educational, scientific and recreational activities.
Through the use of easements, NRCS works with private landowners and partners to protect agricultural use and conserve eligible land. On working farms, easements help farmers keep their land in production agriculture or in grass for grazing without rick of conversion to non Ag use.
Under the Agricultural Land component, NRCS may contribute up to 50% of the easement’s fair market value. On sites where NRCS determines grasslands with special environmental significance need protection, NRCS may contribute up to 75% of the easement’s fair market value. Under the Wetland Reserve component, NRCS offers three enrollment options:
Permanent Easements – These last forever. NRCS pays 100% of the easement value for purchase of the easement and between 75 to 100% of restoration costs.
30-year Easements – These expire after 30 years. NRCS pays 50 to 75% of the easement value for purchase of the easement and for 50 to 75% of restoration costs.
If a conservation easement sounds like a good option for protecting your farm or your family’s land, make an appointment to visit your local NRCS office. Start the conservation conversation today! Visit www.il.nrcs.usda.gov and click on ACEP to learn more.
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