The Ohio Department of Agriculture announced that 10 land trusts, three counties, one township and nine Soil and Water Conservation Districts will receive funding to help preserve farmland across the state.
These organizations will receive allocations from the Clean Ohio Fund to select, close and monitor easements under the Local Agricultural Easement Purchase Program (LAEPP).
LAEPP sponsor organizations will accept applications from Ohio landowners interested in selling an agricultural easement on their farms. A total of $6,301,351 will be made available in this funding round. Local sponsors have been certified to accept applications in 57 counties and the local certified sponsor in Fayette County is the Fayette Soil and Water Conservation District (FSWCD).
Interested landowners should contact FSWCD Director Chet Murphy at (740) 636-0279 or firstname.lastname@example.org for application details. According to Murphy, sooner is better when applying for these funds. Despite the applications only being accepted from Jan. 15 until April 2016, he said its crucial that those interested contact him as soon as possible to begin the process.
The program allows landowners to voluntarily sell easements on their farms to the state of Ohio. The easement requires the farm remain permanently in agriculture production. Selected farms must be 40 acres or more, actively engaged in farming, participate in the Current Agricultural Use Valuation program, demonstrate good stewardship of the land, have the support of their local government and not lay directly in the path of development. 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, 354 family farms in 54 counties have collectively preserved more than 59,000 acres in agricultural production.
For more information on Ohio’s farmland preservation effort visit: www.agri.ohio.gov/divs/FarmLand/.