NB_300_21_10 - NB 300-21-10 LTP – Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Implementation and New Enrollment Guidance
NB 300-21-10 LTP – Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Implementation and New Enrollment Guidance
National Bulletin: 300-21-10 Date: December 15, 2020
Subject: LTP – Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Implementation and New Enrollment Guidance

Purpose.   To provide States with specific guidance for FY 2021 implementation of ACEP. This guidance supplements the ACEP regulation (7 CFR Part 1468) and the ACEP policy manual published at Title 440, Conservation Programs Manual (CPM), Part 528, “ACEP” (440-CPM-528). Policy and procedures for implementing the agricultural land easement (ACEP-ALE) and wetland reserve easement (ACEP-WRE) components of ACEP are provided in the ACEP regulation, policy manual, and supplemental guidance applicable to ACEP published through national bulletins (NB) and national instructions (NI) and must be followed. Upon publication of this bulletin States should not delay setting application consideration cutoff dates for FY 2021.   
Expiration Date.   September 30, 2021
Background.   The ACEP regulation at 7 CFR Part 1468 and the ACEP policy manual at 440-CPM-528, provides the regulations and policy necessary to implement ACEP pursuant to the authorities and provisions of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill). It is anticipated that the ACEP final rule will be published later in FY 2021. Following such publication, States will be notified of any changes that must be addressed while implementing ACEP in FY 2021. This NB provides information specific to ACEP implementation in FY 2021.

Explanation.   This national bulletin and its attachments provide FY 2021 applicable guidance on:

• Application review and selection,
• Enrollment agreement submission, review, and execution,
• Treatment of prior-year enrollments, and
• The timeline and deadlines for implementation of ACEP.

The versions of enrollment agreements, deeds terms, and contract documents referenced in this NB must be used for new enrollments in FY 2021 and as otherwise specified in this bulletin. This guidance must be followed in conjunction with other national guidance, including but not limited to that provided in the updated NI 440-310, “NRCS Program Ranking through Conservation Assessment Ranking Tool (CART),” NI 300-300, “Instruction and Guidance for State Implementation of Easement Internal Controls Prior to Obligation, Payment, and Closing,” NI 300-306, “Agricultural Conservation Easement Program Agricultural Land Easement (ACEP-ALE) Program Agreements and Parcel Contracts,” and forthcoming supplemental guidance specific to the implementation of ACEP in FY 2021. The guidance provided in this bulletin is applicable to ACEP generally unless it is specifically identified that the provision only applies to the ACEP-ALE or ACEP-WRE component.

The NRCS Programs Deputy Area Easement Programs Division (EPD) will provide training as needed through net conferences and webinars. Based on questions received, regularly scheduled net conferences may be supplemented with topic-specific net conferences to address specific questions.


Contact.   After reading the ACEP regulation, policy, and FY 2021 ACEP guidance, NRCS staff may submit general questions regarding the regulation, policy, or guidance to the Easement Policy Branch easement support email box at EasementSupport@usda.gov. Specific questions about individual projects, allocations, or specific FY 2021 implementation issues should be directed to the appropriate national easement program manager or to John Glover, Implementation and Stewardship Branch Chief, at john.glover@usda.gov. For questions regarding the National Easement Staging Tool (NEST), contact Nestsupport@usda.gov. For questions regarding easement internal controls, contact nrcs.internalcontrols@usda.gov. For questions concerning easement valuation contact Joe Stenkamp, national appraiser, at joe.stenkamp@usda.gov.



Deputy Chief for Programs


Attachment A – Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Procedures for Administration of New and Prior Fiscal Year Easement Applications and Enrollments for Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) and Other NRCS Easement Programs

Attachment B – FY 2021 ACEP Timeline

Attachment C – List of Easement Practices

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