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USDA-NRCS IN GEORGIA ANNOUNCES SIGNUP FOR CONSERVATION EASEMENTS

Release No.: 0007.20

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ATHENS, GA, March 2, 2020 - State Conservationist Terrance O. Rudolph, for the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Georgia today announced a sign-up for this year’s Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). To be considered for the fiscal year 2020 funding pool, applications must be submitted by March 31, 2020.

The ACEP, created through the 2014 Farm Bill and reauthorized in the 2018 Farm Bill, is a program that has two components, known as Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) and Wetlands Reserve Easements (WRE).

“ACEP’s ability to help different types of landowners gives NRCS some unique tools to find the conservation solution right for our customers,” said Rudolph. “We encourage Indian tribes, state and local governments, non-governmental organizations and private landowners to contact their local NRCS office to find if ACEP is right for them and how to apply.”

ACEP-WRE applications are accepted directly from producers on eligible lands. These easements will restore and enhance wetlands and improve habitat. Eligible lands include farmed, prior converted or forested wetlands that can be successfully and cost-effectively restored. Applications will be rated according to the easement’s potential for protecting and enhancing habitat for migratory birds, fish and other wildlife.

Applications for the ACEP-ALE are accepted from eligible partners. These eligible entities may submit proposals to NRCS to acquire a conservation easement on eligible agricultural land. NRCS does not accept applications for ACEP-ALE directly from producers. Producers will need to work with an eligible entity to pursue funding for an ACEP-ALE conservation easement. Some examples of eligible entities include county Board of Commissioners, Land Trusts and Land Conservancies.

In the 2018 Farm Bill rules, there is a new option available under ACEP-ALE for the use of ACEP-ALE program agreements, versus the traditional cooperative agreement. ACEP-ALE program agreements are designed to streamline ACEP-ALE enrollments and allow for fiscal year-round evaluation, selection, and funding of individual parcels.

The newer versions of the ACEP-ALE applications allow the eligible entity to identify which ALE-agreement type they are interested in. Approved ACEP-ALE easements would prevent productive working lands from being converted to non-agricultural uses and maximize protection of land devoted to food production. Cropland, rangeland, grassland, pastureland and nonindustrial private forestland are eligible.

All applications must be submitted to Georgia NRCS by March 31, 2020 for both ACEP-ALE and ACEP-WRE. Conservation program applications are available at your local USDA Service Center and at our Programs web page.

NRCS provides leadership in a partnership effort to help people conserve, maintain and improve our natural resources and environment. More information on NRCS conservation programs can be found at https://www.farmers.gov/ or  https://www.ga.nrcs.usda.gov under the Programs tab.

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