Champaign, Ill. — NRCS State Conservationist, Ivan Dozier announced funding is now available for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program — Agricultural Land Easement (ACEP-ALE) program. Dozier explains that the ALE program can help address development and population pressures that pose a threat to Illinois farmland acres currently used for agricultural production. Through conservation easements, NRCS provides financial assistance to eligible partners to assist with the purchase of Agricultural Land Easements (ALE). These easements help farmers/landowners keep working croplands and grasslands in active, profitable agriculture production. The ALE sign-up is continuous. However, funding cut-offs are established to allow eligible applications to compete for funding. The first funding cutoff for this fiscal year (FY21) is March 22, 2021. All eligible applications on file with NRCS on March 22th, will be considered for funding.
Eligible entities include state and local governments and non-governmental organizations that have farmland or grassland protection programs. Dozier explains, “Agricultural easements can protect the long-term viability of our nation’s food supply, which is more important than ever. Easements prevent conversion of productive working lands across Illinois to non-agricultural uses and conserve vital grazing land and pastures,” Dozier added.
Agricultural Land Easements can also help keep agriculture lands in the hands of family members, while providing an enhanced opportunity to keep productive land available for secure crop production. Easements can also offer farming opportunities for new farmers to agriculture. To date, producers and partners nationwide have successfully protected more than 1.8 million acres of farmland and grassland through ACEP’s predecessor programs – the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program and the Grassland Reserve Program.
Interested partners can sign up for ALE at their local NRCS office before the March 22th, 2021 funding cutoff. Interested landowners need to find a partner who is willing to assist in the purchase of the easement. If you do not know of a partner, contact your local NRCS office to get more information about the type of partner that would hold an Agriculture Land Easement.
Due to the evolving COVID-19 situation, producers may need to set up phone appointments with their local NRCS office. Visit www.nrcs.usda.gov to learn more.