The U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service will accept public comments through March 6 on its interim rule on the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, part of changes in the 2018 farm bill.
“Through easements, agricultural landowners are protecting agricultural lands from development, restoring grazing lands and returning wetlands to their natural conditions,” NRCS Chief Matthew Lohr said in a statement. “The new changes to ACEP under the 2018 Farm Bill make it stronger and more effective and will result in even better protection of our nation’s farmlands, grasslands and wetlands.”
NRCS plans to spend more than $300 million to secure conservation easements in the 2020 budget year. Announcements on sign-ups for the program are expected in the next few weeks.
Among the changes is language “limiting nonagricultural uses that negatively affect the land’s agricultural uses and conservation values.” The rule also would add “improving water quality” as a priority under the wetland reserve section.
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