Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Monday that $328 million in conservation funding is being invested to help landowners protect and restore key farmlands, grasslands and wetlands across the nation. The funding is provided through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), which was created in the 2014 Farm Bill to protect critical wetlands and encourage producers to keep lands in farming and ranching.
Vilsack says approximately 380 projects nationwide were selected to protect and restore 32,000 acres of prime farmland, 45,000 acres of grasslands and 52,000 acres of wetlands. “Conservation easements help farmers and ranchers protect valuable agricultural lands from development, restore lands that are best suited for grazing, and return wetlands to their natural conditions,” Vilsack said. “These easements are making a dramatic and positive impact for our food supply, rural communities and species habitat.”
ACEP consolidates three former Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) easement programs – Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program, Grasslands Reserve Program and Wetlands Reserve Program – into two components. One component protects farmlands and grasslands, and the other protects and restores agricultural wetlands.[wpaudio url=”http://zimmcomm.biz/usda/vilsack-9-8-14.mp3″ text=”Ag Secy Tom Vilsack comments on conservation easement”]