Skip Navigation

News Release

Protect Working Farms and Wetlands through the Agricultural Land Easement Program

SOMERSET, N.J., Aug. 1, 2022 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) is now accepting applications for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). 

While NRCS accepts applications year-round, New Jersey producers and landowners should apply by October 31, 2022 to be considered for funding in the current cycle.

ACEP helps landowners, land trusts, and other entities protect, restore, and enhance wetlands, grasslands, and working farms and ranches through two types of conservation easements; Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) and Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE).

Under the Agricultural Land Easements component, NRCS helps protect working agricultural lands and limits non-agricultural uses to protect the long-term viability of the nation's food while supporting environmental quality, historic preservation, wildlife habitat, and protection of open space. This component is also available for grasslands of special environmental significance, or high-quality grasslands under threat of conversion to cropping, urban development, and other non-grazing uses.

Landowners interested in ACEP- ALE must work with a cooperating entity who will submit the required application materials. NRCS does not accept applications directly from producers. State and local governments, non-governmental organizations that have farmland or grassland protection programs, and several New Jersey land trusts are eligible to help interested landowners apply.

Wetland Reserve Easements allow landowners to successfully enhance and protect habitat for wildlife on their lands, reduce impacts from flooding, recharge groundwater, and provide outdoor recreational and educational opportunities. NRCS provides technical and financial assistance directly to private and tribal landowners to restore, protect and enhance wetlands through the purchase of these easements, and eligible landowners can choose to enroll in a permanent or 30-year easement.

To apply for ACEP-ALE, or for more information, please contact Gail Bartok, NRCS Assistant State Conservationist for Programs, at 732-537-6042 or Lauren Lapczynski, Easement Specialist, at 732-537-6046.

Applications for ACEP-WRE are available through your local USDA Service Center and online at www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted.