The PACE program was a key component of the Working Lands Initiative that was passed into law in 2009. PACE is designed to provide state funding for the purchase of agricultural conservation easements.
The PACE program was a key component of the Working Lands Initiative that was passed into law in 2009, but the program is currently unfunded. There remains widespread interest in permanent farmland protection in communities across Wisconsin and hope that the PACE program will funded in the future.
PACE was designed to provide state funding for the purchase of agricultural conservation easements. Through the PACE program, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) has provided funding to cooperating entities (local governments and non-profit organizations) for the purchase of easements from willing landowners. The local entities purchase the easements and may be reimbursed for up to 50 percent of the easement cost by the PACE program. The state and local entities are then co-holders of the easement.
PACE funded easements are intended to strengthen areas that have been planned and designated as local farmland preservation areas in a certified county farmland preservation plan.
Agricultural conservation easements may also provide additional protection to areas that have been designated as agricultural enterprise areas (AEAs).
Gathering Waters Conservancy, American Farmland Trust and other partners in farmland protection continue to advocate for a strong statewide PACE program in Wisconsin.