Florida Ag Landowners Reminded of Upcoming Conservation Easement Program Sign-up Deadlines
Applications for Agricultural Land Easements (ALE), for fiscal year (FY) 2023 funding, are being accepted only until January 31, 2023. Wetland Reserve Easement (WRE) applications for FY2023 are accepted until February 28, 2023.
GAINESVILLE, Florida – January 11, 2022 – Florida agricultural landowners interested in protecting their land uses with conservation values are reminded of fiscal year 2023 application deadlines, as announced by Juan C. Hernandez, state conservationist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Florida. Applications for the agency’s Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) component, for fiscal year 2023 funding, are being accepted only until January 31, 2023. However, for the Wetland Reserve Easement (WRE) component, the sign-up deadline has been extended until February 28, 2023. NRCS accepts agricultural conservation easement applications year-round; however, applications received after these dates will be considered for the following fiscal year.
ACEP protects the agricultural viability and related conservation values of eligible land by limiting nonagricultural uses which negatively affect agricultural uses and conservation values. The program protects grazing uses and related conservation values by restoring or conserving eligible grazing land, and also protects, restores and enhances wetlands on eligible land.
Under the Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) component of ACEP, permanent agricultural land easements are funded to protect the future of the nation's food supply, and to also support environmental quality, wildlife habitat, and historic preservation and protection of open spaces. Interested landowner applicants must apply through an eligible entity – such as a land trust, municipality, or State agencies. 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.
Under the Wetland Reserve Easement (WRE) component of ACEP, landowners may apply directly to NRCS for a conservation easement to restore wetlands impacted by agriculture. Wetland Reserve Easements provide habitat for fish and wildlife, including threatened and endangered species, improve water quality by filtering sediments and chemicals, reduce flooding, recharge groundwater, protect biological diversity, provide resilience to climate change, and provide opportunities for limited recreational activities.
Land eligible for agricultural easements includes cropland, grassland, and pastureland. Non-industrial, private forest land may be enrolled when associated with active agricultural land. Native American Tribes, state and local governments, and non-governmental organizations that have farmland or grassland protection programs are eligible to partner with NRCS to purchase conservation easements.
Enrolling agricultural land helps secure the future of the nation’s food supply, prevents it from being developed or going to a non-agricultural use, and provides public benefits including environmental quality, historic preservation, wildlife habitat, and protection of open space.
Not sure how to begin? Visit our Florida ACEP website for information on ACEP benefits, how to apply, all the forms you will need, and more. Contact your local NRCS office to apply for ALE by January 31 and WRE by February 28. To speak to someone about filling out eligibility forms with the Farm Service Agency (FSA) in Florida, contact your local USDA Service Center.
Michael Bush, Wetland Reserve Easement Coordinator, ACEP-WRE, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sara May, Easement Specialist, ACEP-ALE, email@example.com
Cynthia Portalatin, Public Affairs Specialist, firstname.lastname@example.org