CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — NRCS State Conservationist Ivan Dozier announces funding is now available for the Agricultural Land Easement (ALE) program. 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. “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.
— Illinois Natural Resources Conservation Service
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