NB_300_22_4 - NB 300-22-4 LTP – Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Implementation and New Enrollment Guidance
NB 300-22-4 LTP – Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Implementation and New Enrollment Guidance
National Bulletin: 300-22-4 Date: October 13, 2021
Subject: LTP – Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Implementation and New Enrollment Guidance

Purpose.  To provide States with specific guidance and timeline for FY 2022 implementation of ACEP including requirements related to the enrollment of applications selected for funding in FY 2022, use of forms updated for use in FY 2022, and other activities required for the successful implementation of ACEP in FY 2022.
Expiration Date.  September 30, 2021
Background.   This guidance supplements the ACEP regulation (7 CFR Part 1468), policy manuals (Title 440, Conservation Programs Manual (CPM), Parts 527 and 528), and other national directives that set forth requirements that must be followed in the implementation of ACEP. The guidance provided in this bulletin is applicable to ACEP generally unless specified that the provision only applies to the agricultural land easement component (ACEP-ALE) or wetland reserve easement component (ACEP-WRE).

Explanation.  This national bulletin and its attachments provide FY 2022 applicable guidance on:

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

The versions of enrollment agreements, deeds terms, and contract documents referenced in this NB must be used for new enrollments in FY 2022 and as otherwise specified in this bulletin. The following forms have been updated and are posted to eforms:

• ACEP-WRE: Must be used for all ACEP-WRE FY 2022 enrollments under the easement option.

      o NRCS-LTP-31, “Agreement for Purchase of Conservation Easement” (dated     10/2021)

• ACEP-ALE: All ACEP-ALE requests for payment in FY 2022 should use the versions of the forms listed below, however, for FY 2022 only, the prior version may be used.

     o NRCS-CPA-1268, “Conservation Activity Approval and Payment Application for  Acquisition of Easements” (Easement Payment Application) (dated 10/2021)
     o NRCS-CPA-230E, “Statement to Confirm Matching Funds For General ACEP-ALE Enrollments, 2018 Farm Bill” (dated 10/2021)
     o NRCS-CPA-230F, “Statement to Confirm Matching Funds For ACEP-ALE Grasslands of Special Environmental Significance (GSS) Enrollments, 2018 Farm Bill” (dated 10/2021).

The guidance must be followed in conjunction with applicable statute, regulation, policy, and other national directives, including but not limited to that provided in:

• National Instruction (NI) 300-300, “Instruction and Guidance for State Implementation of Easement Internal Controls Prior to Obligation, Payment, and Closing”
• NI 300-303, “Instruction and Guidance for national review and approval of Areawide Market Analysis (AWMAs), Geographic Area Rate Cap (GARC), and Uniform Standard for Professional Appraisal Practices (USPAP)”
• NI 300-306, “Agricultural Conservation Easement Program Agricultural Land Easement (ACEP-ALE) Program Agreements and Parcel Contracts”
• NI 300-308, “ACEP-ALE Buy-Protect-Sell Transactions”
• NI 440-310, “NRCS Program Ranking through Conservation Assessment Ranking Tool (CART)”
• Related national directives and supplemental guidance specific to the implementation of ACEP in FY 2022.

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 2022 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 2022 implementation issues should be directed to the appropriate national easement program manager. 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 nrcs.nationalappraisers@usda.gov.


Deputy Chief for Programs

Attachment A – Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 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 2022 ACEP Timeline

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