Producers Employ Climate-Smart Easements for Land Conservation – AgriNews



The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will invest $138 million from President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act in new climate-smart conservation easements, marking the largest climate investment in history. The resources will be used to help farmers and ranchers conserve wetlands, grasslands, and prime farmlands. The funding will also be allocated towards the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service projects, which aim to help more producers adopt climate-smart systems and speed up assistance for producers.

USDA Invests in Climate-Smart Conservation Easements

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will invest roughly $138 million from the Inflation Reduction Act into 138 new climate-smart conservation easements. This marks the largest climate investment in history, enabling farmers and ranchers to conserve wetlands, grasslands, and prime farmlands.

Investment in Climate-Smart Agriculture

This year, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) prioritized enabling more producers to adopt climate-smart systems and streamlined the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) to accelerate assistance. In addition to climate-change mitigation, ACEP also helps secure the future of farmers, ranchers, and agricultural communities who rely on the land.

Historic Inflation Reduction Act

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack stated that the Inflation Reduction Act is facilitating a record amount of conservation through easements, allowing farmers and ranchers to protect sensitive landscapes, as well as prime farmland. The new easements further support President Biden’s America the Beautiful initiative, promoting producer-driven conservation efforts nationwide.

ACEP Components

The NRCS offered funding in both components of ACEP: Agricultural Land Easements and Wetland Reserve Easements. Selected projects aimed to reduce, capture, avoid, or sequester greenhouse gas emissions.

Selected Projects

The NRCS highlighted projects addressing threats of conversion to non-grassland use, non-agricultural use, lands with organic soils, and the restoration of native forest and grassland habitats. These projects are tentatively selected, with NRCS working with applicants to complete eligibility for enrollment.

ACEP and Inflation Reduction Act

An additional $19.5 billion, with $1.4 billion for ACEP, is available over several years for climate-smart agriculture and forestry mitigation activities through NRCS conservation programs. To enhance implementation, NRCS is streamlining ACEP, making it more user-friendly for producers.

More Information on ACEP

ACEP-ALE provides financial aid to eligible entities for purchasing easements that protect agricultural use and conservation values of eligible land. ACEP-WRE allows private and tribal landowners to protect and enhance degraded wetlands. Applications for ACEP and other NRCS conservation programs are continually accepted, with state-specific ranking dates determining the next funding cycle.

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