Date Established for Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) Application Deadline for Kansas
SALINA, January 5, 2021 — Kansas State Conservationist, Karen A. Woodrich, of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced today the Statewide cutoff for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) funding. Kansas landowners and eligible entities may apply at any time. However, to be considered for FY 2021 funding opportunities for Kansas Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE) and Agricultural Land Easements (ALE), the application cutoff date is Friday, February 19, 2021. Local NRCS offices will continue to assist landowners who have submitted applications by the cutoff date in order to develop a complete application packet used for ranking. Landowners are encouraged to contact their local NRCS office for specific information regarding an application.
Continued under the 2018 Farm Bill, ACEP provides funding for the purchase of conservation easements to help productive farm and ranch lands remain in agriculture and to restore and protect critical wetlands. There are two components under ACEP, each with a different application process. Contacting the local NRCS office will ensure the applicant receives guidance on the correct application process.
“Conservation easements provide many public benefits to Kansans, including the protection of open spaces, wildlife habitat, and wetland restoration and protection,” said Woodrich. “We encourage private landowners, Tribes, and non-governmental organizations to contact their local NRCS office to apply.”
The goal of ACEP is to protect land devoted to food production and wildlife habitat from being converted to non-agricultural uses and to restore wetlands. ACEP is a voluntary program for landowners and Tribal governments that leave a conservation heritage for their family and community. Landowners have easement options between the ACEP–ALE or ACEP–WRE. ACEP–ALE protects the long term viability of the nation’s food supply by preventing conversion of productive croplands and grasslands to non-agricultural uses. The ACEP-WRE component restores wetlands in order to:
- provide habitat for wildlife (including threatened and endangered species)
- improve water quality by filtering sediments and chemicals
- reduce flooding
- recharge groundwater
- protect biological diversity
NRCS provides technical and financial assistance directly to private and Tribal landowners to restore, protect, and enhance wetlands through the purchase of conservation easements. Eligible landowners may choose to enroll in a permanent or 30-year easement. Tribal landowners also have the option of enrolling in 30-year contracts.
NRCS staff and Partners will work with applicants to help them with the application process for WRE. Land trusts and other eligible entities in Kansas have several agreement types through which they can apply for assistance. The program agreement option is designed to streamline ALE. Eligible entities are encouraged to apply for program agreements and work with landowners to help them through the application process for ACEP-ALE and provide one-on-one assistance to create the conservation easement that works best for their farming or ranching operation.
All ACEP–WRE applications will be ranked according to the easement’s potential for protecting and enhancing habitat for migratory birds, fish, and other wildlife. Eligible applicants will be compensated with a payment rate based on an individual land appraisal, established Geographic Area Rate Cap (GARC), or landowner offer, whichever is less. The GARC rates are posted on the Kansas NRCS website. The ALE conservation easements payment is determined by an appraisal completed on the property.
It is important that applicants provide accurate records of ownership to USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA). This Fiscal Year, all landowners are required to file a CCC-902, Farm Operating Plan, along with adjusted gross income and conservation compliance forms. Application information is available at your local USDA Service Center