What is the ACEP-ALE Program?
The Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) Agricultural Conservation Easement Program supports farmers and farming communities by purchasing conservation easements on working farms. Through the Agricultural Land Easement program, the landowner gets paid for keeping the country’ best soil and farmland in agriculture which keeps the nation’s future food supply more secure. The ACEP-ALE program purchases 75% of a conservation easement value, which is funded 50% by Farm Bill support and 25% by a local match. The landowner donates the remaining 25% value of land through the easement, which could have federal tax benefits.
What are the benefits?
- By protecting their land with a conservation easement, farmers can ensure that the land will always be available for food productions
- The land remains in the farmer’s ownership and can continue to produce income and contribute to the local economy
- The land is a proud legacy for future generations who will continue to be open for farming forever
- Federal and local tax benefits come with conservation easement donations (see the Conservation Easement (link) page).
How can I participate?
To be eligible for the ACEP-ALE program, farmland must be privately-owned with at least $1,000 of annual production and meet at least one of four program criteria:
- Contains 50% of more of prime, unique, or statewide important farmland
- Contains historical or archaeological resources
- Protects grazing uses and related conservation values by restoring and conserving land
- Further a State or local farmland protection policy
How can I help save farmland in my community?
Athens Land Trust works with local communities to help identify potential sources of local matching funds and implement an ACEP-ALE program in your county, town, or community. Athens Land Trust is actively engaged in speaking with farmers and local officials to increase farmland protection throughout the state of Georgia. If you are interested in Athens Land Trust’s support, please contact Krisztian Varsa (link) or Deb Sheppard (link).