PUYALLUP, Wash. — Farmland is a rapidly disappearing resource in Pierce County. More than 10,000 acres of farmland have been lost in the last decade alone, and with the Puget Sound being one of the fastest growing population regions in the country, the challenge only grows more difficult.
It’s for these reasons that the District, eight local organizations, and the U,S, Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) have pooled resources to permanently conserve approximately 1,000 acres of local farmland from 2017 through September 2023.
We’re excited to announce that the implementation of these dollars continues this year through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). For landowners interested in conserving farmland, applications must be received by March 26, 2021, to be considered for funding this period.
For property owners who are interested in putting Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) on their land, Pierce Conservation District will connect you with land trust partners at Forterra or Washington Farmland Trust to begin the process. Land eligible for agricultural easements includes cropland, rangeland, grassland, pastureland and nonindustrial private forest land.
These easements ensure that farmland remains farmland by providing fair value to the landowner for purchasing the development rights. For farmers who might be looking to retire, this makes it possible to get fair value without having to see the land turned into a housing development. By removing the price associated with potential development, it also makes the land more affordable for new farmers, or for those looking to expand their business.
How does the public benefit from all of this, you might ask? Farmland not only ensures that we have fresh, healthy, and local food, but it’s an important part of our local economy and culture. Without it, we’re less secure, we’re less healthy, and we lose a part of our Pacific Northwest culture. Farmland also provides important ecosystem value, helping reduce stormwater runoff to our local streams and by providing important habitat for wildlife.
For more information on ALE please contact:
Communications and Development Director
Pierce Conservation District
firstname.lastname@example.org / 253.845.9770 ext 121
— USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
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