Nebraska Wetland Conservation Easement Sign-Up

Nebraska NRCS has announced it is now accepting applications for the Agricultural Conservation Easements Program (ACEP), specifically for wetlands reserve easements.  The applications will be rated according to the easement’s potential to protect and enhance habitat for migratory birds, fish, and other wildlife.  Applicants will be compensated with a payment rate comparable to local land use value.  (Click here and scroll down to ‘Wetland Reserve Easements’ to find a .pdf file listing the payment rates.)

Applications can be submitted at any time but applications for 2014 funding are due by June 6, 2014.  Note that applicants will need to provide accurate records of ownership and make certain s/he have established a record of ownership with FSA.  Information on the application process, including the application itself, is available here.

NRCS is committed to working with interested applicants through the process of applying for ACEP and creating an easement that works best for the farming operation.  You are also welcome to contact us if you need further information or help!

Conservation Easement Funding Deadline Announced

As part of the 2014 Farm Bill, the Wetlands Reserve Program, Grassland Reserve Program, and Farm and Ranch land Program were combined to create the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP).  On May 1, 2014, the USDA announced it is now accepting applications for ACEP.  Applications must be submitted by the individual state deadline or June 6, 2014, whichever is earlier.  (Contact your local NRCS to determine the state deadline.)

ACEP has two components: (1) wetlands easement and (2) agricultural land easement component.  The wetlands easement component, for the most part, is a mirror of the Wetlands Reserve Program.  The agricultural land easement component is intended to retain the purposes and functions of the Grassland Reserve Program and Farm and Ranch land Program.

For agricultural land easements, NRCS is providing funds to eligible entities to buy easements to protect working farms and ranches and conserve and protect grassland (which includes, rangeland, pastureland, and shrub land).  NRCS may contribute up to 50% for the fair market value for purchase of the easement.  If the NRCS determines the grasslands are of special environmental significant, NRCS may contribute up to 75% of the fair market value.  NRCS has announced that it will give priority to proposals which present conversion of productive working land to non-agricultural uses and maximizes the protection of land devoted to growing the nation’s food supply.  Additionally, the 2014 Farm Bill authorizes prioritization of applications which include grassland acres which will expire from the CRP within one year.

For wetlands easements, the USDA is providing funding to landowners to purchase long-term or permanents easements to restore, protect, and enhance wetland values and functions on eligible wetland which has been in agricultural production.  NRCS will prioritize applications based upon the wetland easement’s potential for protecting and enhancing the habitat for migratory birds, fish, and other wildlife.  Like agricultural easements, the 2014 Farm Bill authorizes prioritization of applications that include valuable wetland acres that will expire from CRP within one year and are likely to return to production.

For more information on ACEP, take a look at the NRCS webpage dedicated to ACEP.  And as always, you are welcome to contact us!