USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is now accepting applications for its new Agricultural Conservation Easements Program that provides financial assistance for farmers, ranchers and forest landowners to establish conservation easements.  The deadline for applications is June 6.

Two components comprise the program. Agricultural easements protect land devoted to food production.  Cropland, rangeland, grassland, pastureland and nonindustrial private forestland are eligible. Wetland reserve easements restore and enhance wetlands and improve habitat. Eligible lands include farmed or converted wetlands that can be successfully and cost-effectively restored.

The ACEP combines NRCS’ former Farm and Ranch Lands Protection, Grassland Reserve and Wetlands Reserve programs.

“This is an exciting new opportunity for even more people to get involved in conserving natural resources,” said Florida State Conservationist Russell Morgan. “We encourage Indian tribes, state and local governments, non-governmental organizations and private landowners to contact their local NRCS office to find out how to apply.”

Applications are available at local USDA Service Centers. Agreements will be evaluated starting in late August.