A Nov. 3 virtual meeting led by NRCS State Conservationist Tom Watson and NRCS Assistant State Conservationist (Easements) Allen Persinger with about 15 Montana land trust participants cleared up uncertainty about the FY22 and FY23 Montana ALE Program application deadlines. The ALE Program was created in the 2014 Farm Bill to maintain farm and ranch operations and maintain food production.
The FY22 ALE project deadline is Jan. 28, 2022.
Montana land trusts should expect the FY23 project deadline to be Jan. 2, 2023. Watson explained his goal, and his expectation, is that the FY23 deadline, or “batching date”, since the NRCS accepts ALE Program project applications throughout the year, will be Jan. 2, 2023. That date, however, cannot be firmly fixed until after Oct. 1, 2022, when the NRCS national headquarters will provide guidance on FY23 program provisions. It should be pointed out that while the NRCS accepts ALE Program project applications throughout the year, a project application submitted on or before Jan. 28, 2022, for example, would be eligible for federal FY22 consideration and funding. A project submitted Jan. 29, 2022, however, would technically not be actively considered until the federal FY23 year begins on Oct. 1, 2022.
Watson explained Montana is the top ALE Program in the nation, both in acres conserved and funding allocated. The added workload within the NRCS to achieve those conserved acres and allocate those funds requires a rigorous internal process and increased ALE Program staff responsibilities. The NRCS internal procedures and timelines are increasingly complex, he added, and Montana land trust participation in RCPP (Regional Conservation Partnership Program) is also growing (which is a good thing). MALT expresses appreciation to Watson, Persinger, and Montana ALE Program Coordinator Brian Ohs for organizing and leading the call.