CA ACEP - Agricultural Land Easements (ALE)

USDA: Natural Resources Conservation Service of California


Grant amount: Unspecified amount

Anticipated deadline: Jan 19, 2019

Applicant type: Indigenous Group Government Entity Nonprofit

Funding uses: Applied Project / Program

Location of project: California

Location of residency: California

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Overview:

ACEP - Agricultural Land Easements (ALE)

Agricultural Land Easements protect the long-term viability of the nation’s food supply by preventing conversion of productive working lands to non-agricultural uses. Land protected by agricultural land easements provides additional public benefits, including environmental quality, historic preservation, wildlife habitat and protection of open space.

NRCS provides financial assistance to eligible partners for purchasing Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) that protect the agricultural use and conservation values of eligible land. In the case of working farms, the program helps farmers and ranchers keep their land in agriculture. The program also protects grazing uses and related conservation values by conserving grassland, including rangeland, pastureland and shrubland. Eligible partners include Indian tribes, state and local governments and non-governmental organizations that have farmland or grassland protection programs.

 Under the ALE component, NRCS may contribute up to 50 percent of the fair market value of the agricultural land easement. Where NRCS determines that grasslands of special environmental significance will be protected, NRCS may contribute up to 75 percent of the fair market value of the agricultural land easement. For Fiscal Year 2017, the applicant will need to describe how the grassland offered for enrollment fits the definition of Grassland of Special Environmental Significance (ALE-GSS). Easement values for ALE are based on a fair market appraisal.

Matching Contributions and Waiver Information

NRCS can partner with a Cooperating Entity to contribute up to 50 percent of the fair market value of the agricultural land easement. The Cooperating Entity must provide an amount that is at least equivalent to the Federal share. A Cooperating Entity may include as part of its share a qualified conservation contribution (donation) from the landowner if the entity contributes its own cash resources in an amount that is at least 50 percent of the Federal share. Under no circumstances may the eligible entity acquire its minimum cash contribution through additional cash contributions, payments, fees or loans paid by the landowner.

ACEP-ALE authorizes two exceptions under which a waiver may be granted by NRCS to:

  • Increase the cost-share amount for Grasslands of Special Environmental Significance. Where NRCS determines that Grasslands of Special Environmental Significance will be protected and a waiver to increase the NRCS contribution has been requested, NRCS may contribute up to 75 percent of the fair market value of the agricultural land easement.
  • Reduce the cash contribution from the Cooperating Entity for projects of special significance.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.

Eligibility:

  •  Land eligible for agricultural easements includes:
    • cropland,
    • rangeland,
    • grassland,
    • pastureland, and 
    • nonindustrial private forest land. 
  • To enroll land through Agricultural Land Easements, NRCS enters into cooperative agreements with eligible partners (tribes, state and local governments, and non-governmental organizations that have farm or grassland protection programs).
  • Each easement is required to have an agricultural land easement plan that promotes the long-term viability of the land.
  • Matching Funds: NRCS can partner with a Cooperating Entity to contribute up to 50 percent of the fair market value of the agricultural land easement. The Cooperating Entity must provide an amount that is at least equivalent to the Federal share.

Preferences:

  • NRCS will prioritize applications that protect agricultural uses and related conservation values of the land and those that maximize the protection of contiguous acres devoted to agricultural use. 

Ineligibility:

  • Ineligible Lands
    • Lands owned by an agency of the United States, other than land held in trust for Indian Tribes. 
    • Lands owned in fee title by a State, including an agency or a subdivision of a State, or unit of local government.
    • Land owned by a nongovernmental organization whose purpose is to protect agricultural use and related conservation values. 
    • Land subject to an easement or deed restriction which, as determined by NRCS, provides similar restoration and protection as would be provided by enrollment in the ACEP-ALE. 
    • Land where the purposes of the program would be undermined due to onsite or offsite conditions, such as risk of hazardous substances, proposed or existing rights of way, infrastructure development, or adjacent land uses. 
    • Land that NRCS determines to have unacceptable exceptions to clear title or insufficient legal access. 
    • Land on which gas, oil, earth, or mineral rights exploration has been leased or is owned by someone other than the landowner unless NRCS determines that the third party rights will not harm or interfere with achieving the ACEP-ALE purposes.