NB_440_21_19 - NB 440-21-19 PGM -Areawide Market Analysis (AWMA) Statement of Work (SOW) and Specifications for the Wetland Reserve Easements Component of the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program Guidance for Fiscal Year 2022
NB 440-21-19 PGM -Areawide Market Analysis (AWMA) Statement of Work (SOW) and Specifications for the Wetland Reserve Easements Component of the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program Guidance for Fiscal Year 2022
National Bulletin: 440-21-19 Date: May 13, 2021
Subject: PGM -Areawide Market Analysis (AWMA) Statement of Work (SOW) and Specifications for the Wetland Reserve Easements Component of the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program Guidance for Fiscal Year 2022

Purpose.  To provide guidance and issue the new Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE) Areawide Market Analysis (AWMA) statement of work for use in contracting for new AWMAs. 
Expiration Date.  December 31, 2021
Background.  The United States of America, acting through NRCS, purchases conservation easements to assist landowners in restoring, protecting, and enhancing wetlands through ACEP-WRE. Title 440 – Conservation Program Manual (CPM), Part 528 Subpart M, Section 528.122, provides guidance regarding the basis for the compensation offers for an easement or 30-year contract enrollment is the lowest of the following:

(i) The fair market value (FMV) of the land using either of the following:
a. A Uniform Standards for Professional Appraisal Practices (USPAP) appraisal or
b. An AWMA
(ii) The geographic area rate cap (GARC)
(iii) An amount voluntarily offered by the landowner

The State Conservationist must ensure the FMV is appropriately determined for each ACEP-WRE enrollment and must determine whether to use a USPAP appraisal or an AWMA to determine FMV. Only one method may be used to determine FMV of an individual application for enrollment.

Obtaining an AWMA may be the preferred method for determining FMV of the land when the characteristics of the land are homogenous enough to provide FMVs applicable to the land uses and types in the identified market area and sufficient enrollment numbers are anticipated. However, an FMV determined by an AWMA may only be used for enrollments that meet the conditions as described in the AWMA, including that the enrollment contains the appropriate land used and is within the acreage range in which the FMV remains valid.

The updated “Natural Resources Conservation Service Agricultural Conservation Easement Program Wetland Reserve Easement (ACEP-WRE) Areawide Market Analysis Statement of Work and Specifications (ACEP-WRE AWMA SOW) is provided as Attachment A.  

Explanation.  New AWMAs acquired for use in FY 2022 for ACEP-WRE must use the updated ACEP-WRE AWMA SOW (Attachment A), except as noted below. States should review the new ACEP-WRE AWMA SOW and be familiar with the process, requirements, and deliverables, including an awareness of the roles and responsibilities of the State, the contracting officer, the NRCS national appraiser, and the vendor. The ACEP-WRE AWMA SOW cannot be modified except by the NRCS national appraiser.

To facilitate a smoother transition to the new ACEP-WRE AWMA SOW and be responsive to feedback from States; States that obtained a new AWMA for use in FY 2021 have the option to seek an extension of that AWMA for one fiscal year following existing guidance or may obtain a new AWMA for use in FY 2022 using the new ACEP-WRE AWMA SOW. States that request to extend their FY 2021 AWMA for use in FY 2022 must use the “Statement of Work and Specifications for the Review of Previous Fiscal Year Area Wide Market Analysis prepared for Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Agricultural  Conservation Easement Program Wetland Reserve Easement,” provided as an exhibit to the ACEP manual (440-CPM-528.225F). An FY 2021 AWMA can only be updated for one additional year and AWMAs originally established prior to FY 2021 cannot be extended or updated.

Applicability for use beyond ACEP-WRE—The new ACEP-WRE AWMA SOW or the FMVs determined in such AWMA:
• May be used in combination with an approved GARC for Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) ACEP-WRE enrollments through 2014 Farm Bill RCPP Partnership Agreements.
• May not be used for RCPP easement enrollments under the 2018 Farm Bill.
• May not be used for Emergency Watershed Protection Program Floodplain Easement (EWPP-FPE) enrollments.

The major changes in the new ACEP-WRE AWMA SOW include:

(i) Ability to obtain the AWMA and a process to recertify the values or amend the values for up to four additional FYs
(ii) Introduces a more iterative process with earlier engagement from the national appraiser or designated resource
(iii) Adds a geospatial component to assist with incorporation of easements into NRCS business tools
(iv) Vendor agrees to:
     a. Provide the new AWMA
    b. Continue to monitor the markets in the State used to establish the values in the AWMA
    c. After the initial year, provide NRCS a letter by July 1 each year, either:
        i. Recertifying the previous year’s values or
       ii. Recommending changes to one or more values
       NOTE: NRCS will determine if the update will be required or if appraisals will be   used for the areas with changes recommended
d. Participate in a training and meet with NRCS at various steps
e. Provide specific information on the sales used
f. Continue to update the sales data spreadsheet with the new sales
g. Submit the required sales data to the national appraiser

States are reminded that any techniques previously approved to address lack of sales data are not automatically approved and may not be acceptable under the new SOW. Without sufficient sales data in a given market area, it is not possible to develop a typical FMV. Sales are needed to indicate there is a typical market. States are advised not to limit the market areas to small areas, which can limit the number of available sales. States may consult with the vendor or the national appraisal staff to develop market areas in compliance with the published policy.

States should clearly communicate to the vendor what is included in each land use category identified for valuation in the market area. The vendor should advise NRCS when sufficient sales cannot be found to support the land use category so the land use category or market area descriptions can be revised.

To allow for continued coordination with the FPAC Business Center Acquisitions Division, States may provide EPD the requisition number for the ACEP-WRE AWMA by emailing NRCS.NationalAppraisers@usda.gov.  Please include AWMA and your State name in the subject line, for example, ’AWMA-West Virginia’. This information will allow EPD to identify these requisitions as a priority.

The AWMA and GARC package national level review submittal process and review will be updated for FY 2022. Future guidance will be provided for the submittal and review of FY 2022 AWMA and GARC packages.

Contact.  Questions should be directed to Joe Stenkamp, National Appraiser, by phone at 301-639-3377 or by email at joe.stenkamp@usda.gov; and Ken Kriese, National Program Manager Wetland Reserve Easements, by phone at 202-720-1871 or by email at ken.kriese@usda.gov.


Deputy Chief for Programs   

Attachment A – ACEP-WRE Areawide Market Analysis Statement of Work and Specifications, May 2021 
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