Ag Policy Blog

NCRS Offers to Buy Conservation Easements in Flooded Areas

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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USDA's NRCS has opened up $217.5 million in funding for purchasing conservation easements on lands flooded or impacted by storms. (DTN file photo)

Farmers with flood-prone ground in 11 states have the option to sell a conservation easement for the ground through USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service.

USDA announced Wednesday that NRCS has $217.5 million available for funding conservation easements on land damaged by floods or other natural disasters under the Emergency Watershed Protection Program. The funding is available for Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin.

“Landowners across the United States have faced—and continue to face—significant challenges from flooding and natural disasters,” said NRCS Chief Matthew Lohr. “To provide relief and assist agricultural landowners during this difficult time, this easement program offers an option that alleviates the stress of operating in a floodplain while still retaining ownership of their property.”

Funding for the easement program comes from a supplemental disaster bill signed by President Donald Trump last month. The bill provided USDA a total of $4.5 billion for various disaster losses and repairs, as well as floodplain management.

USDA's website for Emergency Watershed Protection Program - Floodplain Easement Option (EWP-FPE) states NRCS will buy permanent easements on ground that has been damaged by flood at least once in the past calendar year or flooded twice in the past decade. Other ground may be eligible if it helps restore floodwater storage and flood, or protect against erosion. Lands also inundated or damaged because of dam breach also qualify.

Compensation for such easements is based on the lowest of three values: A fair market value appraisal, either through an area survey or an individual appraisal; a geographic area rate cap, reflecting the value of the state conservationist and a technical committee; or a voluntary offer by the landowner accepting lower compensation than NRCS would offer. (USDA notes the last option "may enhance the probability of the easement becoming enrolled.)

More information can be found at https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/…

Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN

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