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Conservation Corner

Submit Input to NRCS on Easement Rule

Tue, January 14, 2020

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) seeks public comments on its interim rule for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). ACEP is USDA’s premier conservation easement program, helping landowners protect working agricultural lands and wetlands. The interim rule – now available on the Federal Register – will be in effect until the final rule is published. These activities will make changes to the program prescribed by the 2018 Farm Bill.

Through easements, agricultural landowners are protecting agricultural lands from development, restoring grazing lands and returning wetlands to their natural conditions.
The new changes to ACEP under the 2018 Farm Bill make it stronger and more effective and will result in even better protection of our nation’s farmlands, grasslands and wetlands.

NRCS is investing more than $300 million in conservation easements for fiscal 2020. NRCS state offices will announce signup periods for ACEP in the coming weeks. Changes to ACEP for agricultural land easements include:

• Authorizing assistance to partners who pursue “Buy-Protect-Sell” transactions.

• Requiring a conservation plan for highly erodible land that will be protected by an agricultural land easement.

• Increasing flexibility for partners to meet cost-share matching requirements.

Changes to ACEP for wetland reserve easements include:

• Identifying water quality as a program purpose for enrollment of wetland reserve easements.

• Expanding wetland types eligible for restoration and management under wetland reserve easements.

Conservation easements have a tremendous footprint in the U.S. with nearly 5 million acres already enrolled. That’s 58,000 square miles.  This is a great testament to NRCS’s and landowner’s commitment to conservation.

Submitting Comments

NRCS invites comments on this interim rule through March 6 on the Federal Register. Electronic comments must be submitted through under Docket ID NRCS-2019-0006. All written comments received will be publicly available on, too. NRCS will evaluate public comments to determine whether additional changes are needed. The agency plans on publishing a final rule following public comment review.

Applying for ACEP

ACEP aids landowners and eligible entities with conserving, restoring and protecting wetlands, productive agricultural lands and grasslands. NRCS accepts ACEP applications year-round, but applications are ranked and funded by enrollment periods that are set locally.

For more information on how to sign up for ACEP, visit your state website at or contact your local NRCS field office. 


USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.



Soil Conservation Technician Opportunities

Tue, January 07, 2020

Do you enjoy working outdoors?  enjoy working on farms with landowners applying conservation and improving the environment? 

Illinois NRCS has 10 Soil Conservation Technician vacancies posted on USAJOBS.  The closing date is January 24th.

For more information, go to


For more information on Careers in NRCS, go to :





2020 Illinois Seminars Scheduled

Tue, November 05, 2019

Carve out time in your January Calendar now!


With the crazy 2019 weather, planting conditions, and harvest delays, talk about cover crops in Illinois might be at an all-time high. If you haven’t yet got on board with all the sustainable and regenerative changes in agriculture, attending one of the January 21-23 seminars might be just what you need.


Start making plans now to attend one of the 2020 Conservation Cropping Seminar events. Speakers and special guests include Hans Kok, Indiana Soil Health Consultant; Bryan Young, Purdue University Weed and Chemistry professor; and Rick and Aaron Clark, Illinois conservation farmers on the cutting edge of making things do-able and profitable.


These meetings can introduce farmers to the information, the scientific research, and testimonial evidence they need to take steps in transforming their own farm operations. Farmers learn from the speakers at these events, but they also learn from each other as they share successes and lessons learned.  Register early to reserve a spot at the location closest to them: January 21st in Mt. Vernon, January 22nd in Bloomington, or January 23rd in Rochelle, Illinois.

Register online at or call the Champaign County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) at (217) 352-3536.


Each seminar costs just $20, payable by check or credit card, and it includes lunch. The 2020 events start early and end before 4 pm, with time scheduled during the day to meet and visit speakers, sponsors, or chat with other participants in a small group setting.

Illinois farmers are growing more interested in finding solutions and strategies that can improve success with challenging weather conditions. I believe more farmers are ready to take steps to make small improvements on their farm that make sense environmentally and economically. These seminars are the perfect place to begin having those conversations and start making those changes.


January 21, 2020   –  The Double Tree Hotel – 222 Potomac Blvd. in Mt. Vernon, IL – Contact: Gary (618) 980-0117

January 22, 2020   –  The Double Tree Hotel – 10 Brickyard Dr. in Bloomington, IL – Contact: Marty (309) 634-6243

January 23, 2020   –  Hickory Grove Conf. Ctr. – 1127 N. 7th St. in Rochelle, IL – Contact: Joe (815) 786-4373

These events offer producers an opportunity to gather facts and make decisions that fit their own operation.


To learn more and to register, visit the Champaign County SWCD website Local businesses and organizations can exhibit, serve as sponsors, and reach local and new clients. See website for details.

Primary sponsors and organizers of seminars include Illinois Department of Agriculture, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, American Farmland Trust, the Illinois Stewardship Alliance, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, and local Soil and Water Conservation Districts.



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