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Agriculture Conservation Easement Program

Program Name: Agriculture Conservation Easement Program
Program Sponsor: U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (DOA)
National Resource Conservation Service
Program Type:          Labeling/ Certifications (Land Easements)
Technology:               Technology Neutral
Fuel:                        N/A (land conservation)
Eligibility:  Private land owners, land trusts, and other entities with land eligible for conservation
Cost: Varies by project


The Agriculture Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) aims to protect agricultural viability and related conservation values on eligible land by minimizing non-agricultural uses that negatively affect agricultural uses.


To check eligibility, interested applicants will need to check their eligibility at a USDA Service Center. To check eligibility applicants must bring an official tax ID (Social Security number or an employer ID), a property deed or lease agreement that shows the applicant has control of the property, and a farm tract number.

How the Program Works

The ACEP safeguards eligible land’s agricultural sustainability and associated conservation qualities. It achieves this by restricting non-agricultural activities that may harm agricultural uses and conservation values. ACEP also focuses on preserving grazing areas and their related conservation qualities through restoration and conservation efforts. Furthermore, it plays a role in the protection, restoration, and enhancement of wetlands situated on qualified land.

The ACEP is made up of two components. First, the Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) that aim to help private and tribal landowners, land trusts, and other entities protect croplands and grasslands by limiting  non-agricultural uses through conservation uses.

The second component are the Wetlands Reserve Easements (WRE) which aims to help private and tribal land owners protect, restore, and enhance wetlands which have degraded from agricultural uses. Additionally, through the USDA, the ACEP offers the Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership (WREP) which allows eligible partners to leverage resources to help high priority wetland protection, restoration, and enhancement and to improve wildlife habitats.

How to Apply

Applicants should first visit their local NRCS office to discuss the revision of their land with a conservation planner. The second step is to fill out an AD 1026, to ensure that a conservation plan is in place before land with erodible soil is farmed. It is also necessary to check eligibility requirements. Once this step is completed, the NRCS will work with applicants on the application or a CPA 1200. The third step is to check the applicant’s eligibility. The fourth step is the NRCS will review the application and rank it according to local resource concerns and potential benefits. Finally, if selected, the applicant can choose to sign the contract for work to begin.

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