New Resources Help Landowners Participate in the Federal Farmland Protection Program, ACEP-ALE
Are you looking for help in permanently protecting your farmland or ranchland? AFT’s Farmland Information Center just released a collection of resources and tools to guide landowners through the steps of applying to the federal farmland protection program, ACEP-ALE.
What is ACEP-ALE?
The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, or ACEP, is a voluntary conservation program that protects agricultural land from conversion to non-farm uses and conserves and restores wetlands. An Agricultural Land Easement, or ALE, is a permanent easement that stays in effect even if ownership changes. It contains provisions that limit non-farm development and keeps the land available for agricultural use.
ACEP-ALE provides matching funds to eligible entity partners—a land trust or public farmland protection program—to purchase agricultural land easements. It is administered by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, NRCS, a federal agency that works with farmers and private landowners to improve and protect their soil, water, and other natural resources. As a landowner, you may be working with this agency already to address other resource concerns on your land.
Resources and Tools
The Farmland Information Center worked in partnership with NRCS to develop this new collection. Featured on the homepage of the Farmland Information Center website, these resources walk landowners through the federal farmland protection program ACEP-ALE application process. The collection includes an explanation of ACEP-ALE, describes the role of NRCS, and provides information on how to find a farmland protection partner. Other resources include:
Fact sheets to help you decide if the program is a good fit
Checklists detailing eligibility criteria for you and your land
ACEP-ALE helps keep threatened farmland and ranchland available for agriculture by compensating you for choosing to permanently protect your land from development. In addition, the program can help you:
Improve the viability of your farm. Proceeds from the sale of agricultural conservation easements can be invested in your operation. Farmers and ranchers have used this money to construct, expand, or repair agricultural buildings or structures; buy equipment for farming, processing, or marketing agricultural products; or buy additional land.
Transfer agricultural land to the next generation. Permanently protected land is usually more affordable to farmers and ranchers because the agricultural conservation easement limits future non-farm development, which may lower fair market value.
Implement or expand sound farming practices. The program ensures that your highly erodible land is subject to a management plan. It also involves farmland protection partners to help you learn about conservation practices and gives you capital to implement them.
If you need more information, our Farmland Information Center staff are available to answer questions about ACEP-ALE, protecting your farmland or ranchland, or to recommend model policies and programs that help save the land that sustains us. Submit a question using our online form, or call us at (800) 370-4879.
About the Author
Director of Farmland Information Center and Senior Advisor