Farmland funding available to landowners

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in Indiana is making available more than $3.4 million to help landowners protect and restore key farmlands, grasslands and wetlands.

The funding is provided through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, created by the 2014 Farm Bill to protect critical water resources and wildlife habitat and encourage private owners to maintain land for farming. Eligible entities must submit applications for the current funding pool on or before Jan. 15, 2016.

Agricultural land easements not only protect the viability of the nation’s food supply by preventing conversion of productive working lands to non-agricultural uses, they also support environmental quality, wildlife habitat, historic preservation and protection of open spaces, according to a news release.

State and local governments, non-governmental organizations and Native American tribes that have farmland or grassland protection programs are eligible to partner with the conservation service to protect farmland through easements.

Wetland reserve easements allow landowners to successfully restore, enhance and protect habitat for wildlife on their lands, reduce damage from flooding, recharge groundwater and provide outdoor recreational and educational opportunities. Eligible landowners can choose to enroll in a permanent or 30-year easement. Tribal landowners also have the option of enrolling in 30-year contracts.

ACEP applications may be submitted at any time to NRCS; however, applications for the current funding round must be submitted on or before Jan. 15.

To learn about ACEP and other technical and financial assistance available through Indiana NRCS conservation programs, visit nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted or contact Shasta Woodard at 812-358-2367.

For information about easements in Indiana, visit nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/in/programs/easements.