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Agricultural Conservation Easement Program


Are you a farmer with a deep connection to your land or interest in protecting the future of the nation’s food supply? Maybe you’re an agricultural landowner or eligible entity interested in protecting the integrity of your property? Why not consider safeguarding your land with a conservation easement through the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). NRCS accepts applications year round; however, applications for FY2024 funding are being accepted from now until December 15, 2023.

The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) protects the agricultural viability and related conservation values of eligible land by limiting nonagricultural uses which negatively affect agricultural uses and conservation values, protect grazing uses and related conservation values by restoring or conserving eligible grazing land, and protecting and restoring and enhancing wetlands on eligible land.

Under the Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) component funds are provided to eligible entities that use ACEP funding to purchase permanent agricultural land easements that not only protect the future of the nation’s food supply, but also support environmental quality, wildlife habitat, and historic preservation and protection of open spaces. Landowner applicants who are interested must apply through an eligible entity – such as a land trust, municipality, or the Connecticut Department of Agriculture. NRCS will prioritize applications that protect agricultural uses and related conservation values of the land and those that maximize the protection of contiguous acres devoted to agricultural use.

Under the WRE component, funding is provided directly to landowners for the purchase of an easement and for restoration. Wetland reserve easements 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. 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. Eligible lands include farmed or converted wetlands that can be successfully and cost-effectively restored.

Land eligible for agricultural easements includes cropland, grassland, and pastureland; non-industrial private forest land may be enrolled when associated with active agricultural land. Native American Tribes, state and local governments, and non-governmental organizations that have farmland or grassland protection programs are eligible to partner with NRCS to purchase conservation easements.

Enrolling agricultural land helps secure the future of the nation’s food supply, prevents it from being developed or going to a non-agricultural use, and provides public benefits including environmental quality, historic preservation, wildlife habitat, and protection of open space.

Applications must be submitted by December 15, 2023, to:

Carol Grasis
Assistant State Conservationist for Programs
USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service
344 Merrow Road, Suite A
Tolland, CT 06084-3917

Not sure how to begin? Visit our website where you will find information on benefits, how to apply, all the forms you will need, and more.

To speak to someone about filling out eligibility forms with the Farm Service Agency (FSA), or to obtain an application, contact your local USDA Service Center: Danielson – (860) 779-0557; Hamden – (203) 287-8038; Norwich – (860) 887-3604; Torrington – (860) 626-8852; Windsor – (860) 688-7725; Connecticut State Office, Tolland – (860) 871-4028.