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News Release

USDA announces Agricultural Land Easement application deadline

Contact:
Diane Petit, Public Affairs Officer
413-253-4371


Connecticut River Valley farmland

AMHERST, Mass., Nov. 27, 2017 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is accepting applications from state and local governments, non-governmental organizations and Native American Tribes that would like to protect working farmland through an Agricultural Land Easement under the federal Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP).

Created by the 2014 Farm Bill, ACEP Agricultural Land Easements protect critical natural resources and encourage private landowners to maintain land for farming through the voluntary sale of an easement, which limits future development.

NRCS provides financial assistance to eligible partners for purchasing Agricultural Land Easements. State and local governments, non-governmental organizations and Native American Tribes that have farmland or grassland protection programs are eligible to partner with NRCS to purchase conservation easements.

Applications should be submitted to Darlene Monds, USDA-NRCS Massachusetts State Office, 451 West Street, Amherst, MA 01002 by Friday, March 2, 2018. Information on how to apply and application forms are available on the NRCS Massachusetts website.

“Protecting working agricultural lands preserves Massachusetts’ heritage, natural resources and open space,” said Christine Clarke, Massachusetts State Conservationist for NRCS. “ACEP's agricultural land easements are important tools for people trying to improve the management of their land. These easements also protect the long-term viability of the nation's food supply by preventing conversion of productive working lands to non-agricultural uses.”

NRCS may contribute up to 50 percent of the fair market value of the agricultural land easement.  Where NRCS determines that grasslands of special environmental significance will be protected, NRCS may contribute up to 75 percent of the fair market value of the agricultural land easement. Since enactment of the 2014 Farm Bill, over 2,000 acres of Massachusetts farmland have been protected under ACEP Agricultural Land Easements.

To learn about ACEP and other technical and financial assistance available through NRCS conservation programs, visit www.ma.nrcs.usda.gov or your local USDA Service Center.

NRCS is a federal agency that works hand-in-hand with the people of Massachusetts to improve and protect soil, water and other natural resources. The agency has offices in USDA Service Centers in Greenfield, Hadley, Holden, Pittsfield, Westford, West Wareham and West Yarmouth, which work with local conservation districts and other partners to serve farmers and landowners in their area.