The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is accepting applications from landowners and organizations interested in protecting farmlands and grasslands with financial and technical assistance available through the Agricultural Land Easements program (ALE). Applications for ALE are taken on a continuous basis. The deadline to receive fiscal year 2023 funding is December 16, 2022.
The ALE program provides funding to conservation partners to purchase conservation easements on private working lands. Eligible partners include Indian tribes, state and local governments, and non-governmental organizations that have farmland or grassland protection programs.
“This valuable program helps maintain the agricultural viability of the land for future generations,” said John Wilson, NRCS State Conservationist in Ohio. “Ohio’s farmlands are an essential part of the state’s identity and economic makeup and we must do all that we can to preserve them.”
Land eligible for agricultural easements includes cropland, rangeland, grassland, pastureland and nonindustrial private forest land. 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.
To enroll land through Agricultural Land Easements, NRCS enters into agreements with eligible partners. Landowners do not apply directly to the program and are urged to visit the below websites to find an eligible partner to hold conservation easements:
- Farmland Protection Directory: farmlandinfo.org/farmland-protection-directory
- Land Trust Alliance: landtrustalliance.org/land-trusts