Wetland Reserve Easements, like this one on a Northern Virginia farm, are eligible for a new fund pool created by last year's Inflation Reduction Act (Photo: Virginia NRCS).
RICHMOND, Va. – USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is now accepting applications to its Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) for funding in Fiscal Year 2023 using funds provided by the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.
Applications seeking IRA funds must be for Wetland Reserve Easements (WREs) and must include at least one core Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry (CSAF) conservation practice or activity that directly improves soil carbon, reduces nitrogen losses, or reduces, captures, avoids or sequesters carbon dioxide, methane or nitrous emissions associated with agricultural productions. Facilitating practices or activities that are needed to implement the core practice may also be included.
ACEP-WRE applications must also include the following:
- Form NRCS-CPA-1200 (Conservation Program Application)
- Deed to establish land ownership
Virginia NRCS' IRA focus for FY23 will include, but will not be limited to:
- Improving energy efficiency of stationary equipment and facilities on agriculture operations to reduce energy use.
- Increasing total carbon stored in soils and/or perennial biomass to reduce atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and enhance carbon sequestration.
In terms of easement compensation, Virginia NRCS pays 95 percent of the land’s fair market value (FMV) determined by an individual appraisal on permanent easements.
Most governmental units in Virginia have a maximum Not to Exceed (NTE) rate of $5,000 per acre, except for the following:
- These 18 counties within the Chesapeake Bay drainage area have a NTE rate of $16,000 per acre: (Albemarle, Augusta, Clarke, Culpeper, Fauquier, Frederick, Greene, Henrico, James City, Loudoun, Madison, Mathews, Orange, Page, Prince William, Rappahannock, Rockingham, Spotsylvania, Stafford and Warren).
- The two cities surrounding the Great Dismal Swamp have a NTE rate of $7,100 per acre: (Suffolk and Chesapeake).
- Another 12 counties in the Lower Rappahannock River basin have a NTE rate of $16,000 per acre: (Lancaster, Middlesex, Essex, Richmond, Westmoreland, King George, Caroline, Stafford, Spotsylvania, Culpeper, Fauquier and Rappahannock).
Applications will be accepted until March 17, 2023. All applicants must have farm records established with USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA). Advance payment options are available for historically underserved* producers.
* Historically underserved producers include beginning, socially disadvantaged, veteran and limited-resource farmers or ranchers. (Click on the link to access full definitions.)