March 15, 2019
Tennessee NRCS Announces FY2019 Application Deadline for Eligible Agricultural Entities and Individual Landowners to Apply for ACEP
Deadline to apply is Friday, April 19, 2019
TRENTON – The United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced an application deadline for Tennessee eligible entities to apply for fiscal year 2019 funding for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). The deadline to apply is Friday, April 19, 2019. Tennessee will accept applications for ACEP on a continuous basis, but deadlines must be set to evaluate the applications.
Applications for the ACEP-Agricultural Land Easement (ALE) will only be accepted from eligible entities, not individual landowners. Eligible entities include State or local units of government, Indian Tribes or nongovernmental organizations, such as a conservancy or a land trust. ALE is only available as a perpetual easement.
ACEP's agricultural land easements 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 allow 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.
“Tennessee is committed to preserving working agricultural lands to help protect the long-term viability of farming across the landscape as well as to restoring and protecting vital sensitive wetlands that provide important wildlife habitat and improve water quality,” said Sheldon Hightower, State Conservationist, Tennessee NRCS. “NRCS may establish additional application cutoff dates based on funding and interest in the ACEP program and, if an additional funding period is approved, a 30-day- minimum application period will be announced.”
Qualified individual landowners may apply for the ACEP – Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE) Program. Only qualified landowners with a complete application package will be considered for land eligibility determination.
WRE can be enrolled as 30-year or perpetual, based on the landowner(s) desired management of the offered property. 30-year easements are valued at 25 percent less than perpetual easements and landowners are responsible for 25 percent of restoration costs whereas perpetual easements are eligible for a 100 percent restoration cost-share. Alternatively, landowners have the option to offer their property at a reduced purchase and/or restoration cost to improve application ranking.
Applications received after the designated cutoff date of Friday, April 19 will be considered in the next program year or in subsequent application periods, if announced. If a landowner is applying for ACEP-WRE on multiple parcels of land, any non-contiguous parcels must be submitted as separate applications. Contiguous multiple parcels may be submitted as one application, provided the ownership is identical for each parcel.
ACEP was re-authorized under the 2018 Farm Bill and authorizes assistance to qualified partners who pursue ‘buy-protect-sell’ transactions under ACEP-ALE. It also requires a conservation plan for highly erodible land that will be protected by an agricultural land easement and increases flexibility for partners to meet cost-share matching requirements.
Through ACEP-ALE, NRCS provides financial assistance to eligible partners for purchasing agricultural easements that protect the agricultural use and conservation values of eligible land. In the case of working farms, the program helps farmers keep their land in agriculture.
ACEP-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.
Under the 2018 Farm Bill, ACEP-WRE identifies water quality as a program purpose for enrollment of wetland reserve easements and it expands wetland types eligible for restoration and management.
Entities and landowners interested in applying for ACEP-WRE funding should visit with the USDA-NRCS Trenton Field Office, 1252 Manufacturers Row, Trenton, TN 38382.
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