America’s wetlands, grasslands, and farmland are under increasing threat of conversion to other land uses – wetlands and grasslands are routinely targeted for conversion to crop production, while existing farmland is often threatened by conversion to commercial or residential uses. It is critical that we protect these lands and their existing uses because each serves an important function in our society and ecosystem. Without farmland, we lose our nation’s food security as well as the livelihoods of food producing and rural families. If we convert our wetlands and grasslands, we lose highly productive ecosystems that support an abundance of plants and animals, and provide a wide range of ecological benefits such as water filtration, flood mitigation, and carbon sequestration.
The US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agriculture Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) helps landowners, land trusts, and other entities protect these lands with long-term and permanent easements. ACEP, which was established under the 2014 Farm Bill and is administered by USDA’s National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), has two easement components – one for wetlands and one for agricultural land. The agricultural land easement component also includes a funding pool for Grasslands of Special Environmental Significance.
Source: National Sustainable Agricultural Coalition, September 27, 2017