CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — NRCS State Conservationist Ivan Dozier has announced funding is now available for the Agricultural Land Easement (ALE) program. 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 conservation easements, NRCS can provide financial assistance to eligible partners, that will be used to purchase Agricultural Land Easements (ALE). These easements help farmers/landowners keep working croplands and grasslands in active, profitable agriculture production. The ALE sign-up is continuous but the funding cut-off for this fiscal year runs through June 19, 2020.
Eligible entities include state and local governments, and non-governmental organizations that have farmland or grassland protection programs. Dozier explains, “Agricultural easements can protect the long-term viability of our nation’s food supply, which is more important than ever. Easements prevent conversion of productive working lands to non-agricultural uses and conserve vital grazing land and pastures,” Dozier added.
Easements can also help keep lands in the hands of family members, while providing an enhanced opportunity to keep productive land available for secure crop production. Easements can offer farming opportunities for other newcomers to agriculture. 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.
Interested partners need to sign up for ALE now at their local NRCS office. The first funding cutoff will be June 19th, 2020. Interested landowners need to find a partner who is willing to assist in the 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.
Due to the evolving COVID-19 situation, producers may set up phone appointments with their local NRCS office if they have any questions or need information. Visit www.nrcs.usda.gov to learn more.
— USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
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