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Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP)

2018 Farm Bill ACEP Webheader

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) provides financial and technical assistance to help conserve agricultural lands and wetlands and their related benefits. There are two components to the program – the Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) and the Wetlands Reserve Easements (WRE).

Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) potect the long-term viability of the nation’s food supply by preventing conversion of productive working lands to non-agricultural uses or non-grassland uses, depending on the type of enrollment. NRCS works with Indian tribes, state and local governments, and non-governmental organizations to protect these private working agricultural lands. Land protected by Agricultural Land Easements provides additional public benefits, including environmental quality, historic preservation, wildlife habitat and protection of open space, to name a few.

With the Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE), NRCS helps to restore, protect and enhance enrolled wetlands.  Lands enrolled in this component 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 and provide opportunities for educational, scientific and limited recreational activities.

Agricultural Land Easements (ALE)

NRCS provides financial assistance to eligible partners for the purchase of Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) that protect the agricultural uses and related 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 manage farmland or grassland protection programs and meet other qualifications.

Under the Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) component, NRCS may contribute up to 50 percent of the fair market value of the easement. Where NRCS determines that grasslands of special environmental significance (GSS) will be protected, NRCS may contribute up to 75 percent of the fair market value of the easement.

Eligibility

Partners applying for the program must meet specific entity applicant requirements to be considered eligible.  For those partners that do not already have an established agreement with NRCS, the eligibility requirements can be found in the entity application package.

For standard enrollments, all landowners of the property offered for enrollment must meet Farm Service Agency (FSA) payment eligibility criteria as it applies to the NRCS easement programs.  Landowners must ensure they establish or update the property record and applicable payment eligibility paperwork with FSA for the Fiscal Year in which the application will be submitted.  Landowners should visit with their local USDA Service Center for more information.  Buy-protect-sell enrollments may have different payment eligibility requirements; contact NRCS for more information. 

Land eligible for Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) includes cropland, rangeland, grassland, pastureland and nonindustrial private forest land. There are many other land eligibility factors that must be considered during application review and site visits to the property, including hazardous materials and title issues.  NRCS will prioritize applications that protect agricultural or grazing 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 (ALE), NRCS enters into Program Agreements and Parcel Contracts with eligible partners. Co-applicants, co-holders, and third-party-rights holders must also be considered in the application.  The entity and landowner may choose to develop an agricultural land easement plan to further promote the long-term viability of the land.  If highly erodible land (HEL) is present on the property as determined by FSA and NRCS, a HEL Conservation Plan will be required and is written by NRCS.

How to Apply

Entity Application Materials

CPA-41 Entity Application

3_ACEP-ALE CO Parcel Application Questionaire Mar2021

AD-2047 Customer Data Worksheet Request

SF-1199A Direct Deposit Sign-up Form

5A SAMPLE ACEP-ALE Program Agreement

5B SAMPLE Exhibit 1 ACEP-ALE Program Agreement Signature Page

5C_SAMPLE Exhibit 2 - NRCS Appraisal Specifications

5D_SAMPLE Exhibit 3(a) - NRCS-CPA-1265 - ACEP-ALE Parcel Cost-Share Contract

5E_SAMPLE Exhibit 3(b) - NRCS-CPA-1265 - Appendix

5F_SAMPLE Exhibit 3(c) - NRCS-CPA-1266 - Schedule of Acquisition for Easements

5G_SAMPLE Exhibit 3(d) - NRCS-CPA-1267 - Modification of the Schedule of Acquisition for Easements

5H_SAMPLE Exhibit 3(e) - NRCS-CPA-230E Statement to Confirm Matching Funds ACEP-ALE General 2018 Farm Bill

5I_SAMPLE Exhibit 3(f) - NRCS-CPA-230F Statement to Confirm Matching Funds ACEP-ALE-GSS 2018 Farm Bill

5J_SAMPLE Exhibit 3(g) - NRCS-CPA-1268 - Easement Payment Application

5K_SAMPLE Exhibit 4 - Additional Agreement Provisions

5L_SAMPLE Exhibit 4 - CCC-36 - Assignment of Payment

5M_SAMPLE Exhibit 4 - LTP-23 Certificate of Use and Consent (for Certified Entities only)

5N_SAMPLE Exhibit 4 - NRCS Baseline Report Items

5O_SAMPLE Minimum Deed Terms for the Protection of Agricultural Use (ALE) vFeb2020

Parcel Application Materials

CO NRCS ACEP-ALE Workflows

CPA-41A Parcel Sheet vFeb20

ACEP-ALE CO Parcel Application Questionnaire

ACEP-ALE CO Parcel Application Workbook

ACEP-ALE CO Buy-Protect-Sell Addendum

ALE Landowner Checklist for FSA Eligibility

ACEP Landowner Eligibility Matrix v0517

AD-2047 Customer Data Worksheet Request v033017

9_CCC-941 Average AGI v03-03-21

CCC-902-I Farm Operating Plan for an Individual v09-28-20

CCC-902-E Farm Operating Plan for an Entity v09-28-20

CCC-902-E Continuation Sheet -  Farm Operating Plan for an Entity v09-28-20

CCC-901 Members Information v09-28-20

FSA-211 Power of Attorney v11-25-14

AD-1026 v 103014 HELC and WC Certification

ACEP-ALE GSS GuSG (PA) Ranking Pool Report REV 041321

ACEP-ALE GSS GrSG (PA) Ranking Pool Report REV 041321

ACEP-ALE General (PA) Ranking Pool Report

ACEP-ALE General (CA-GA Sub) Ranking Pool Report

ACEP-ALE GSS Non-SG (PA) Ranking Pool Report REV 041321

 

To enroll land in Agricultural Land Easements (ALE), eligible partners must submit complete and accurate proposals by mail or email to the NRCS State Office to the attention of the appropriate Easements Program Manager.

 

Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE)

NRCS provides technical and financial assistance directly to private landowners and Indian tribes to restore, protect, and enhance wetlands and associated wildlife habitat through the purchase of a wetland reserve easement that meets the purpose of the program.

Through the various enrollment options, NRCS may enroll eligible land through one of the following:

  • Permanent Easements – Permanent Easements are conservation easements in perpetuity. NRCS pays up to 100 percent of the easement value for the purchase of the easement. Additionally, NRCS pays up to 100 percent of the restoration costs.

  • 30-Year Easements – 30-Year Easements are conservation easements that expire after 30 years. Under 30-Year easements, NRCS pays up to 75 percent of the easement value for the purchase of the easement. Additionally, NRCS pays between up to 75 percent of the restoration costs.

  • 30-Year Contracts – 30-Year Contracts are only available to enroll acreage owned by Indian tribes.  Program payment rates are commensurate with 30-Year Easements.

For Wetland Reserve Easements, NRCS pays all administrative costs associated with recording the easement in the local land records office, including recording fees, charges for abstracts, survey and appraisal fees, and title insurance.

Eligibility

All landowners of the property offered for enrollment must meet Farm Service Agency (FSA) payment eligibility criteria as it applies to the NRCS easement programs.  Landowners must ensure they establish or update the property record and applicable payment eligibility paperwork with FSA for the Fiscal Year in which the application will be submitted.

Land eligible for Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE) includes farmed or converted wetland that can be successfully and cost-effectively restored. There are many other land eligibility factors that must be considered during application review and site visits to the property, including hazardous materials and title issues.  NRCS will prioritize applications based the easement’s potential for protecting and enhancing habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife.

To enroll land through Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE), NRCS enters into purchase agreements with eligible private landowners or Indian tribes that include the right for NRCS to develop and implement a wetland reserve restoration easement plan. This plan restores, protects, and enhances the wetland’s functions and values.  Landowners should carefully review the applicable standard easement deed or contract to ensure they understand the terms.

How to Apply

WRE_ACEP-WRE Application Checklist for Landowners

WRE_CPA-1200 Conservation Program Application v0319

WRE_ACEP-WRE 24-Month Ownership and Waiver Request Information

WRE_ACEP-WRE Landowner Self-Certification

WRE_ACEP-WRE Easement Compensation Summary and Landowner Offer Worksheet

WRE_AD-2047 Customer Data Worksheet Request v033017

WRE_6_CCC-941 Average AGI v03-03-21

WRE_AD-1026 v103014 HELC and WC Certification

WRE_8_FSA-211 Power of Attorney v112514

WRE_9_CCC-901 Members Information v09-28-20

WRE_CCC-902-E v041619 Farm Operating Plan Entity v09-28-20

WRE_CCC-902-I Farm Operating Plan for an Individual v09-28-20

WRE_ACEP Landowner Eligibility Matrix v0517

WRE_SF-1199A Direct Deposit Sign-Up Form

WRE_SAMPLE - LTP-31 Agreement for the Purchase of Conservation Easement vFeb2020

WRE_SAMPLE - LTP-30 Warranty Easement Deed in Perpetuity

WRE_SAMPLE - LTP-32 Warranty Easement Deed for a Period of 30 Years

WRE_SAMPLE - ACEP-WRE Warranty Easement Deed Exhibit C Subsurface Rights

WRE_SAMPLE - ACEP-WRE Warranty Easement Deed Exhibit D Water Uses and Water Rights

WRE_SAMPLE - AD-1158 Subordination Agreement and Limited Lien Waiver

WRE_CO ACEP-WRE Ranking Criteria

WRE_ACEP-WRE Workflows for Application and Acquisition

 

To enroll land through Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE), landowners may apply at any time and complete their FSA payment eligibility paperwork at the local USDA Service Center.

PROGRAM CONTACT
Heather Foley, Resource Conservationist, Easements Coordinator
Phone: 720-544-2805
Email: heather.foley@usda.gov

More Information