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News Release

NRCS Starts Signup for Agricultural Land Conservation Easements

Bangor, Maine, May 2, 2014 -- To help protect working agricultural lands in Maine from being developed, Juan Hernandez, State Conservationist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Maine, has announced that they are accepting proposals for Fiscal Year 2014 funding through the agency’s Agricultural Conservation Easement Program-Agricultural Land Easements (ACEP-ALE).  The deadline for proposals is June 6, 2014. 

“The Agricultural Land Easements portion of the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, which includes the objectives of the former NRCS easement program known as the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program, is an excellent way to keep prime farmland in agriculture and, at the same time, keep farming communities thriving by relieving development pressures”, said Hernandez. “This program helps ensure that valuable, productive land is protected. The funds will be used to purchase conservation easements to limit conversion of farmland to non-agricultural uses.”

There is a continuous, year-round sign-up for the program, but proposals submitted by June 6, 2014 will be considered for funding in Fiscal Year 2014.  Proposals submitted after that date will be held for Fiscal Year 2015 funding consideration.

NRCS is seeking proposals from local and state governments, federally-recognized tribal governments, and non-government organizations that have farmland or grassland protection programs.  For those proposals selected for funding, NRCS will enter into an agreement to support efforts to protect soils and historical and archaeological sites.  Under the Agricultural Land Easements 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.  All funds will be awarded to the highest ranked eligible parcels through a statewide competitive process.

Eligible entities must demonstrate a commitment to long-term conservation of agricultural lands, a capacity to acquire and manage easements, have pending offers on a farm, and available funding to match federal funds.  Eligible farmland must be privately owned, subject to a pending offer, and contain at least 50% prime, statewide, or locally important farmland soils.  In addition, the farm must include at least one-third cropland, grassland, and/or pastureland of the total acreage.

If you are interested in submitting a proposal, please contact Lance Gorham, USDA NRCS, at 207-990-9501, or email lance.gorham@me.usda.gov.

For more information on this program, please visit http://www.me.nrcs.usda.gov.

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