The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) is a voluntary federal conservation program implemented by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The program protects agricultural land and conserves wetlands. There are two enrollment options: Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) and Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE).
ACEP-ALE provides matching funds to eligible entities to buy conservation easements on farm and ranch land. The purposeof the program is to “… protect the agricultural use and future viability, and related conservation values, of eligible land by limiting non-agricultural uses of that land;and protect grazing uses and related conservation values by restoring and conserving eligible land” (16 U.S.C. § 3865). In general, NRCS may pay up to 50 percent of the appraised fair market value of the easement, though a waiver is available to increase the cost-share for grasslands of special environmental significance. The ACEP-ALE component consolidates the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP) and the Grassland Reserve Program (GRP).