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Agriculture Land Easements

 Agricultural Land Easements (ALE)

Purpose

What's New in ACEP?

ACEP is a new program that consolidates three former programs – the Wetlands Reserve Program, Grassland Reserve Program and Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program.

Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) protect the long-term viability of the nation’s food supply by preventing conversion of productive working lands to non-agricultural uses. Land protected by agricultural land easements provides additional public benefits, including environmental quality, historic preservation, wildlife habitat and protection of open space.

Grasslands of Special Environmental Significance (ALE-GSS)

Protect the long term grazing uses and related conservation values on eligible private range and pasture lands. The program emphasizes support of grazing operations, maintaining and improving plant and animal biodiversity, and protecting grasslands and shrublands under threat of conversion to cropping, urban development, and other non-grazing uses.

Benefits

NRCS provides financial assistance to eligible partners for purchasing Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) that protect the agricultural use and conservation values of eligible land. In the case of working farms, the program helps farmers and ranchers keep their land in agriculture. The program also protects grazing uses and related conservation values by conserving grassland, including rangeland, pastureland and shrubland. Eligible partners include Indian tribes, state and local governments and non-governmental organizations that have farmland or grassland protection programs.

Under the Agricultural Land component, 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.

For FY 2016, for ACEP-ALE Cost-Share Assistance Match Requirements go to 440 Part 528.43 ACEP ALE Cost-Share Assistance Match Requirements.

ACEP-ALE FY 2015 Cooperative Agreement and Minimum Deed Terms

The standard FY 2016 ACEP-ALE cooperative agreements for noncertified eligible entities are provided as general ACEP-ALE General enrollments cooperative agreement and  ACEP-ALE grasslands of special environmental significance (ACEP-ALE-GSS) enrollments.  Agreements to fund ACEP-ALE-GSS parcels must use the ACEP-ALE-GSS cooperative agreement and ACEP-ALE-GSS parcels may not be included on general ACEP-ALE cooperative agreements. 

The terms of the FY 2016 ACEP-ALE standard cooperative agreements cannot be modified.  Entities that request modifications to the terms of the cooperative agreement should understand that their application may be considered lower priority or deferred for FY 2016 and are subject to review and approval by NHQ in accordance with 440-CPM, Part 528, Subpart F. 

The “Minimum Terms for the Protection of Agricultural Use” as stated in the “ACEP-ALE Minimum Deed Terms” addendum (440-CPM, Part 528, Subpart U, “Exhibits”) must be used for all parcels funded through an FY 2016 ACEP-ALE cooperative agreement with a noncertified eligible entity. 

Easement Compensation

ACEP-ALE: All FY 2016 ACEP-ALE Cooperative Agreements specify that the allowable valuation methodologies for FY 2016 parcels will be limited to the use of USPAP or UASFLA appraisals as outlined in existing ACEP ALE Appraisal Specification unless otherwise approved by the National Appraiser. 

Eligibility

Land eligible-  Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) includes cropland, rangeland, grassland, pastureland and nonindustrial private or tribal forest land that is subject to a written pending offer for purchase of an agriculture land easement from an eligible entity.  Additionally land must meet the criteria set for in part 440  Part 528.33 of the ACEP ALE Conservation Programs Manual.

Landowner Eligibility-  All landowners on the deed must meet the payment eligibility criteria applied to landowners as beneficiaries as set forth in the Food Security Act of 1985 Section 1001D, as amended, which establishes payment eligibility for conservation programs based upon the Average adjusted Gross nonfarm Income (AGI) for persons and legal entities.  For AGI purposes, the term “person” means an individual, natural person and does not include a legal entity. Additionally, the term “legal entity” means an entity created under Federal or State law.  All landowners will file the AGI certification, Form CCC-941, “Average Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) Certification and Consent to Disclosure of Tax Information,” or successor form with FSA.  FSA is responsible for completing all AGI certifications.   Note: Indian Tribes are not subject to AGI provisions.

Landowner must also meet Conservation Compliance set forth in the provisions of the Food Security Act of 1985 that all persons and legal entities on the deed are compliant with the Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation (HEL/WC).

For assistance in ensuring that the proper documentation is obtained for landowner eligibility requirements, landowners should contact their local Farm Service Agency county office.

How to Apply

To enroll land through Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) , eligible partners may submit proposals to NRCS to acquire conservation easements on eligible land. To Apply for Agricultural Land Easements in Oklahoma-- submit an  ENTITY APPLICATION for an AGRICULTURAL LAND EASEMENT (ALE) AGREEMENT (NRCS-CPA-41) and  PARCEL SHEET for ENTITY APPLICATION for an AGRICULTURAL LAND EASEMENT (ALE) AGREEMENT (NRCS-CPA-41A), SF-424, SF-424A, AND SF-424B.

To be eligible to participate in ACEP-ALE, at the time of application entities must submit the following:

  • A complete Entity Application form (NRCS-CPA-41) and a Parcel Sheet (NRCS-CPA-41A) for each parcel the eligible entity seeks ACEP funding;
  • A written pending offer signed by the eligible entity for the purchase of an agricultural land easement on each parcel submitted with the Entity Application (NRCS-CPA-41);
  • Evidence that sufficient matching funds are available at the time of application;
  • Evidence of entities capability to acquire, manage, and enforce agricultural land easements;
  • Evidence of their commitment to long-term conservation of agricultural lands;

To assist compiling complete application packets the following checklists are available:

Checklist ACEP-ALE OK Entity Application 2016
Checklist ACEP-ALE OK Parcel Application 2016

Submit complete application packets to:

USDA-NRCS Oklahoma State Office
100 USDA
Suite 206 Stillwater, Ok 74074
ATTN: Melanie Oliver

Ranking

ACEP-ALE Ranking Criteria (PDF, 91 KB)