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USDA offers multiple opportunities for landowners to improve property

Jackson, Miss. – The United States Department of Agriculture / Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is accepting applications for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). ACEP provides financial and technical assistance to landowners and Native American Tribes with conservation efforts on agricultural lands and wetlands.

NRCS strives to help producers and landowners enact environmentally friendly activities such as improving water and air quality, building healthier soils, improving grazing and forest lands, enhancing organic operations and conserving energy. ACEP consists of two separate components, the Agricultural Land Easement (ALE) option and the Wetland Reserve Easement (WRE) option. These options are tailored to benefit different land types that meet specific qualifications and are cost effective.

The ALE component is geared to protect agricultural lands devoted to food production from conversion into non-agricultural uses. ALE works with eligible partners such as conservation organizations, state and local governments to share the easement costs.

The WRE component aims to restore, enhance and protect wetlands through the purchase of a wetland reserve easement. WRE works with individual land owners and land managers to cover the total restoration cost for a permanent easement or up to 75% funding assistance on a 30 year easement.

Both programs ensure long term conservation of agricultural lands, either through preservation of farming operations or restoring wetlands and improving wildlife habitat.

“The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program offers land owners and land managers two
options to protect agricultural lands and protect wetlands,” stated Kurt Readus, NRCS state
conservationist for Mississippi. “This conservation investment helps to improve environmental
health and the natural resources of Mississippi.”

Applications for all NRCS financial-assistance programs are accepted on a continuous sign-up
process, however specific sign-up deadlines are established to rank, contract and fund qualified
tracts of land.

The deadline to sign-up to be considered for consideration in ACEP’s fiscal year 2018 funding period is October 27, 2017.

Landowners, Non-Government Organizations, and Native American Tribes interested in
participating in ACEP should visit the nearest USDA Service Center for more information.

To locate your local service center, visit http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app. For more information, visit the website at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/site/ms/home/.

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