State Conservationist Jerry Raynor announced today that Indiana’s USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is making available over $7.7 million to help landowners protect and restore key farmlands, grasslands and wetlands across Indiana. The funding is provided through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), created by the 2014 Farm Bill to protect critical water resources and wildlife habitat, and encourage private owners to maintain land for farming. Eligible entities must submit applications for the current funding pool on or before February 3, 2021.
“I cannot overemphasize the benefits of restoring, enhancing and protecting these working agricultural lands and critical wetlands,” said Raynor. “NRCS is committed to preserving working agricultural lands to help protect the long-term viability of farming across Indiana as well as restoring and protecting wetlands that provide important wildlife habitat and improve our water quality.”
ACEP's Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) not only protect the long-term viability of the nation's food supply by preventing conversion of productive working lands to non-agricultural uses, they also support wildlife habitat, historic preservation and protection of open spaces. 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 protect farmland through easements.
Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE) allow landowners to successfully restore, enhance and protect wetlands on their land which provide habitat for wildlife, reduce damage from flooding, recharge groundwater and provide outdoor recreational and educational opportunities. Eligible landowners can choose to enroll the wetland in a permanent or 30-year easement. Tribal landowners also have the option of enrolling in 30-year contracts.
ACEP applications may be submitted at any time to NRCS; however, applications for the current funding round must be submitted on or before February 3, 2021.