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News Release

USDA Offers Assistance to Protect Privately-Owned Agricultural Lands and Grasslands

Rey Adame

Four large bales of hay in a dip in a field

Lexington, Kentucky, January 15, 2018 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) encourages people and groups wanting to protect agricultural lands and grasslands to consider enrolling their property into conservation easements. This year, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) plans to invest more than $1.5 million in technical and financial assistance to help private landowners, tribes, land trusts and other groups protect these valuable lands in Kentucky.

The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program – Agricultural Land Easements (ACEP - ALE) focuses on protecting and conserving productive agricultural lands and grasslands. Landowners are compensated for enrolling their land in easements.

“Protecting these lands preserves America’s heritage, natural resources and open space,” NRCS Acting Chief Leonard Jordan said. “Easements are also important tools for people who are trying to improve the management of their land.”

Applications from eligible entities for 2018 ACEP-ALE funding must be received by February 15, 2018.

Agricultural Land Easements

Through ACEP agricultural land easements, NRCS provides funds to conservation partners to purchase conservation easements on private working lands. This program helps keep working lands working, especially in areas experiencing development pressure.

Partners include state or local agencies, non-profits and tribes. Landowners continue to own their property but voluntarily enter into a legal agreement with a cooperating entity to purchase an easement.  The cooperating entity applies for matching funds from NRCS for the purchase of an easement from the landowner, permanently protecting its agricultural use and conservation values.  Landowners do not apply directly to NRCS for funding under this program.

Easements are permanent. Eligible lands include privately owned cropland, grassland, pastureland and forestlands.

More Information

Partners interested in agricultural easements should contact their local USDA service center or visit the Kentucky NRCS ACEP-ALE website. Applications for ACEP are taken on a continuous basis, and they are ranked and considered for funding several times per year.