AMHERST, Mass., March 19, 2019 – 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 through an Agricultural Land Easement under the federal Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP).
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 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 ranking date is Friday, April 19, 2019. 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 provide to Massachusetts NRCS.
To apply, Applications should be submitted to Darlene Monds, USDA-NRCS Massachusetts State Office, 451 West Street, Amherst, MA 01002 by Friday, April 19, 2019. Information on how to apply and application forms are available on the NRCS Massachusetts website.
“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 Massachusetts,” said Christine Clarke, Massachusetts 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.
NRCS is a federal agency that works hand-in-hand with the people of Massachusetts to improve and protect soil, water and other natural resources. The agency works with local conservation districts and other partners to serve farmers and landowners in the Bay State and across the United States.