Dozier explains that the ALE program can help address
development and population pressures that pose a threat to
Illinois farmland acres currently used for agricultural
production. Through use of these easements, NRCS can provide
financial assistance to eligible partners. Those funds are then
used to purchase Agricultural Land Easements (ALE). These
easements keep working croplands and grasslands in active,
profitable agriculture production. The sign-up opportunity for
Illinois ALE runs through April 29, 2019.
Who can serve as an eligible partner? Entities, including state
and local governments, and non-governmental organizations that
have farmland or grassland protection programs may be eligible
partners. Dozier explains, “Agricultural easements help protect
the long-term viability of our nation’s food supply. Easements
prevent conversion of productive working lands to
non-agricultural uses and conserve vital grazing land and
pastures,” Dozier adds.
Easements also help keep lands in family hands, while providing
an enhanced opportunity to keep productive land available for
entry into farming through increased availability of affordable
land for young, beginning, veteran and under-represented
farmers. To date, producers and partners nationwide have
successfully protected more than 1.1 million acres of farmland
and 340,000 acres of grassland through ACEP’s predecessor
programs – the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program and the
Grassland Reserve Program.
Since the 2014 Farm Bill, NRCS worked nationally
with hundreds of landowners and partners to use easements that
support preservation of almost 500,000 acres.
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“These easements offer not only tremendous
benefits for individual landowners and partnership entities, but
also the public by providing historic preservation, wildlife
habitat, and protecting open space.”
Agricultural Land Easements also contribute to a more diverse
agricultural landscape and more resilient rural economies. They can
also open new economic opportunities to landowners and rural
communities who recognize and take advantage of birding, hunting,
and other recreational activities people enjoy on their trips and
vacations to the countryside.
Interested partners need to sign up for ALE now in their local NRCS
office. The first funding cutoff will be April 29th, 2019.
Interested landowners need to find a partner who is willing to
assist in purchase of the easement. If they do not know of a
partner, they can contact their local NRCS office to get more
information about the type of partner that would hold an Agriculture
Land Easement. To learn more, contact the local NRCS office in your
Illinois county or visit www.nrcs.usda.gov to reach NRCS.
Public Affairs Officer
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service]