Farmland preservation applications being accepted


By Chet Murphy - Fayette SWCD Director



Fayette Soil & Water Conservation District (Fayette SWCD) has again been designated as a local sponsor by the Ohio Department of Agriculture to help preserve farmland across the state.

Local sponsors will receive allocations to select, close and monitor easements under the Local Agricultural Easement Purchase Program (LAEPP).

The program, which is voluntary and competitive, allows landowners to sell easements on their farms to the State of Ohio. The easement requires the farm to remain permanently in agricultural production, supporting the state’s largest industry. Selected farms must be 40 or more acres, actively engaged in farming, participate in the Current Agricultural Use Valuation program, demonstrate good stewardship of the land, have support from local government, and not lay directly in the path of development.

The value of the easement is calculated using a points-based appraisal. The maximum for an easement purchase is $2,000 per acre or $500,000 total. Landowners may use the proceeds of the easement in any way they wish, but most reinvest it in their farm operations.

Funding for the program is derived from the Clean Ohio Conservation Fund, approved by voters in 2008. When combined with easements from all programs, 420 family farms in 54 counties have collectively preserved more than 69,000 acres in agricultural production. Fayette SWCD recently closed on the second easement in Fayette County using monies from the 2016 round of funding. These two easements will permanently protect 507 aces in Jefferson Township. There is another offer pending on 244 acres from the 2017 round of funding.

Fayette SWCD advises the application period is narrow. The deadline to begin the application process is Feb. 23. Persons interested in submitting an application should contact the Fayette SWCD office as soon as possible.

For more information, contact Fayette SWCD Director Chet Murphy at 740-636-0279 or chester.murphy@fayette-co-oh.com.

Additional information is also available at: http://www.agri.ohio.gov/divs/FarmLand/.

By Chet Murphy

Fayette SWCD Director

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