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News Release

2019 ACEP

NRCS Contact:
Alicia Rodriguez (505) 761-4421

March 19, 2019

New Mexico USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Announces Application Deadline for Agricultural Conservation Easement Program Funding  

ALBUQUERQUE, NM – The 2018 Farm Bill or Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 enacted on December 20, 2018, reauthorized funding for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program with some amendments and authorized funding nationwide at $450 million per fiscal year (FY) for 2019 through 2023.  Most amendments to the program will be implemented starting in 2020 with a few minor changes allowed in fiscal year 2019.
Funds available for ACEP have increased under the 2018 Farm Bill thus providing additional opportunities for long term conservation.  The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program 
(ACEP) focuses on restoring and protecting wetlands as well as conserving productive agricultural lands and grasslands. Landowners are compensated for enrolling their land in easements based on the market value of the land. 
“New Mexico NRCS is prioritizing the protection of agricultural lands with riparian and wetland habitats.  Easements are a valuable tool to protect and restore these important habitats,” said Kristin Graham Chavez, NRCS Assistant State Conservationist for Programs in New Mexico.  Applications for ACEP are accepted year-round.  The deadline to apply in order to be considered for fiscal year 2019 funding is April 22, 2019.  The application forms and information on how to apply can be found at the NRCS New Mexico ACEP website.   

Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE) – Through ACEP-WRE, NRCS helps landowners and tribes restore and protect wetland ecosystems.  Wetlands are one of nature’s most productive ecosystems providing many ecological, societal and economic benefits.
“Seventy-five percent of the nation's wetlands are situated on private and tribal lands,” says Graham Chavez. “Wetlands provide many benefits, including critical habitat for a wide array of wildlife species. They also store floodwaters, clean and recharge groundwater, sequester carbon, trap sediment, and filter pollutants for clean water.” 

Wetland conservation easements on private land can be either permanent or for 30 years. Tribal land can enroll in 30 year contracts which are similar to 30 year easements.  Eligible lands include farmed or converted wetlands that can successfully be restored, croplands or grasslands subject to flooding, and riparian areas that link protected wetland areas.  As part of the easement agreement, NRCS and the landowner work together to develop a plan for the restoration and maintenance of the wetland. 

Landowners can apply by visiting their local USDA Service Center and submitting their Conservation Program Application (NRCS-CPA-1200).  Producers who have established a Client Gateway account may submit their application online. 

Landowners need to receive a farm and tract number from the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and complete eligibility certifications. 

Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) – Through ACEP-ALE, NRCS provides funds to conservation partners to purchase conservation easements on private working lands.  This program helps keep agricultural lands in production, 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.  Landowners interested in working lands easements (ACEP-ALE) will need to receive an offer from an eligible entity and the entity submits an application package to NRCS. 

ALE easements are permanent.  Eligible lands include privately owned cropland, rangeland, grassland, pastureland and forestlands. 

Picture of Working ranch with Welands (ALE Funding)






A working ranch with wetlands is protected from conversion to nongrassland uses with ALE funding.
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