The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) provides financial and technical assistance to help conserve agricultural lands and wetlands and their related benefits. Under the Agricultural Land Easements component, NRCS helps Indian tribes, state and local governments and non-governmental organizations protect working agricultural lands and limit non-agricultural uses of the land. Under the Wetlands Reserve Easements component, NRCS helps to restore, protect and enhance enrolled wetlands.
Congress acted on several Farm Bill-related programs in the appropriation bill passed recently. Here’s a brief summary, courtesy of American Farmland Trust
The U.S. Senate recently passed a bill extending a number of tax provisions—including the enhanced tax deduction for the donation of conservation easements – through the end of calendar year 2014. The bill, already passed by the U.S. House, also made the extension retroactive back to the first of the year, so the enhanced deduction will be available for conservation easement donations made between Jan. 1, 2014, and Dec. 31, 2014.
Advice from Matt Zoshke, an organizer of Wisconsin’s largest agricultural enterprise area (AEA): Be willing to work with the farmers in your area and understand their concerns. That and a lot of cooperative, creativity and hard work went into establishment of the Heart of America’s Dairyland AEA in Clark and Marathon counties. It also didn’t hurt that Zoshke, the Clark County conservationist, has a farm background and is well-known in the agriculture community.