January 15, 2016
Application Deadline Extended to January 29th for Tennessee Agricultural Producers to Apply for ACEP-ALE Program
Funds also Available for Wetland Protection
NASHVILLE – The Natural Resources Conservation Service has extended the deadline for Tennessee producers to apply for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program – Agricultural Land Easements (ACEP-ALE) to Friday, January 29, 2016. The original deadline was January 15, but the new deadline will allow more time for producers to compete for 2016 funding. Producers are encouraged to apply at any time throughout the year but deadlines have to be set to evaluate the applications.
“NRCS helps farmers, private forest landowners, and partners to achieve their conservation goals using our technical expertise, Farm Bill funding, and sound conservation planning,” said Kevin Brown, Tennessee State Conservationist. “Conservation easements are an important tool to help these landowners and partners voluntarily provide long-term protection of our nation’s farmland, wetlands, and grassland for future generations.”
The 2014 Farm Bill consolidated three previous conservation easement programs into ACEP to make it easier for diverse agricultural landowners to fully benefit from conservation initiatives. NRCS easement programs have been a critical tool in recent years for advancing landscape-scale private lands conservation.
In FY 2014 and FY 2015, NRCS invested more than $600 million in ACEP funding to help landowners engage in voluntary conservation to provide long-term protection of an estimated 250,000 acres of farmland, grassland, and wetlands through more than 750 new easements.
To participate in the ACEP-ALE program, landowners must agree to limit the use of their land for non-agricultural purposes and to develop and implement a conservation plan if they have fields designated as ‘Highly Erodible Land.’ The farmland must contain productive soils or historic archaeological sites, or support a state or local program policy.”
ACEP-ALE applicants (eligible entities) must be state or local units of government or a non-governmental organization. Applicants must have an established farmland protection program that purchases agricultural conservation easements for the purpose of protecting agriculture use and related conservation values by limiting conversion to nonagricultural uses of the land.
USDA provides up to 50 percent of the appraised fair market value of the conservation easement in this voluntary program. The landowner retains ownership and continues to use the land for agricultural purposes.
In addition to ACEP-ALE funding, $6 million in ACEP-WRE (Wetland Reserve Easements) funding is available in Tennessee under the Mississippi River Basin Initiative to help protect lands along the Mississippi River.
WRE allows landowners to successfully restore, enhance, and protect habitat for wildlife on their lands, reduce damage from flooding, recharge groundwater, and provide outdoor recreational and educational opportunities. Eligible landowners can choose to enroll in a permanent or 30-year easement.
Producers should visit with their local NRCS Service Center, or contact Chris Hancock, District Conservationist at 615-893-9295 ext. 3 if they are interested in applying for ACEP-ALE or ACEP-WRE funding.
For general information about the ACEP program, please contact Laura Persinger, Realty Specialist, at (615) 277-2597, or visit the Tennessee NRCS website.
In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity (including gender expression), sexual orientation, disability, age, marital status, family/parental status, income derived from a public assistance program, political beliefs, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity, in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA (not all bases apply to all programs). Remedies and complaint filing deadlines vary by program or incident.
Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.) should contact the responsible Agency or USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TTY) or contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.
To file a program discrimination complaint, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, AD-3027, found online at http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html and at any USDA office or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:
- mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;
- fax: (202) 690-7442; or
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.