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News Release

USDA offers assistance to state and local governments to protect working farmland in Rhode Island

Contact:
Diane Petit, Public Affairs Officer
413-835-1276


Sheep grazing in a field

WARWICK, RI (Feb. 22, 2021) – 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 though an Agricultural Land Easement (ALE) under the federal Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).

RCPP-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 RCPP Agricultural Land Easements. Cropland, rangeland, grassland, pastureland and industrial private forest land private forestland are eligible. 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.

This year’s application deadline is March 23, 2021. All eligible applications received by 4:00 pm on this date will be ranked. The highest ranked applications will be selected based on the available funds provided to Rhode Island NRCS.

RCPP-ALE forms and documents are available on the Rhode Island NRCS website. For additional information or assistance with the application process, contact: Joseph Bachand, Easement Program Manager, joseph.bachand@ri.usda.gov, 401-822-8818 or Brunilda Velez, Assistant State Conservationist-Programs, brunilda.velez@ri.usda.gov, 401-822-8820.

“USDA is committed to preserving our agricultural lands for the future generations.  This is a perfect opportunity for local communities, state agencies, land trusts and other eligible groups to partner with NRCS to preserve these lands and the values they provide to the residents of Rhode Island,” said R. Phou Vongkhamdy, Rhode Island State Conservationist for NRCS.

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.

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

NRCS is a federal agency that works with local conservation districts and other partners to help farmers and landowners to improve and protect soil, water and other natural resources in Rhode Island and across the United States.