USDA offers assistance to protect privately-owned agricultural lands

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Ohio 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 2024 funding is Dec. 15, 2023.

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.

“Preserving Ohio’s farmlands is critical,” said John Wilson, NRCS State Conservationist in Ohio. “This program works to ensure the long-term viability of the nation’s food supply by preventing conversion of productive working lands to non-agricultural uses.” 

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: 

Find Ohio’s ranking dates as well as other program information on the Ohio NRCS ALE website or contact Abby McClain at Abigail.Mcclain@usda.gov

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