Skip Navigation

Agricultural Conservation Easement Program

ACEP header photo - Cerillos Lake, Puerto Rico(En Español)

The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) provides financial and technical assistance to help conserve agricultural lands and wetlands and their related benefits. Under the Agricultural Land Easements component, NRCS helps Indian tribes, state and local governments and non-governmental organizations protect working agricultural lands and limit non-agricultural uses of the land. Under the Wetlands Reserve Easements component, NRCS helps to restore, protect and enhance enrolled wetlands.

What's New in ACEP?

ACEP FY2020 Application Deadline is May 29, 2020. People and groups wanting to protect critical wetlands, agricultural lands and grasslands through easements are recommended to contact their local USDA service center.

FY 2020 Signup for Agricultural Conservation Easement Program Funding Deadline is May 29, 2020

NRCS encourages landowners and groups wanting to protect critical wetlands, agricultural lands and grasslands to consider enrolling their property into conservation easements. NRCS invests in technical and financial assistance through ACEP to help private landowners, tribes, land trusts and other groups across the nation to protect these valuable lands.

ACEP provides assistance to landowners and eligible entities helping conserve, restore and protect wetlands and productive agricultural lands and grasslands. NRCS accepts ACEP applications year-round, but applications are ranked and funded by enrollment period.

Through ACEP Agricultural Land Easements, NRCS provides funds to eligible entities to purchase easements on private working lands. This program helps keep working lands working, especially in areas experiencing development pressure. Eligible cooperating entities 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 ACEP Agricultural Land Easements.

Easements are permanent. Eligible lands include privately owned cropland, rangeland, grassland, pastureland and forest lands.

Cabo Rojo Salt FlatsThrough ACEP Wetland Reserve Easements, NRCS helps landowners and tribes restore, enhance and protect wetland ecosystems. NRCS and the landowner work together to develop a plan for the restoration and maintenance of the easement. Wetland conservation easements are either permanent, for 30 years or the maximum extent allowed by state law. Tribal landowners have the added option of enrolling in 30-year non-easement restoration contracts. 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.

Benefits

Agricultural Land Easements 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.

Wetland Reserve Easements provide habitat for fish and wildlife, including threatened and endangered species, improve water quality by filtering sediments and chemicals, reduce flooding, recharge groundwater, protect biological diversity and provide opportunities for educational, scientific and limited recreational activities.

More Information

GovDelivery envelope imageSign up for Farm Bill email updates