REYNOLDSBURG — The Ohio Department of Agriculture recently announced approval for local sponsors to purchase agricultural easements on 42 family farms representing 5,851 acres in 23 counties.
Local sponsoring organizations, which include land trusts, counties and local Soil and Water Conservation Districts, receive funding from the Clean Ohio Fund to manage the Local Agricultural Easement Purchase Program (LAEPP). The easement ensures farms remain permanently in agricultural production. The program supports the state’s largest industry, food and agriculture.
To be eligible for the program, farms must be larger than 40 acres or next to a preserved farm, 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 be in close proximity to development. Landowners may use the proceeds of the easement in any way they wish, but most reinvest it in their farm operation.
Communities wishing to participate next year can apply to be Certified Local Sponsors between August 20 and October 11, 2019. Certified Local Sponsors assist landowners interested in selling easements with the application process, easement closing and monitoring, and are ODA’s valued partners in carrying out the Ohio Farmland Preservation program.
Funding for the state’s farmland preservation efforts is derived from the Clean Ohio Conservation Fund, approved by voters in 2008, and used to purchase agricultural easements from willing sellers through a competitive process. From 2002 to 2019, 466 family farms in 60 counties have collectively preserved 65,462 acres in agricultural production. Permanent easements preserved under related programs bring the total acres currently preserved in Ohio to over 76,000.
The Fayette Soil & Water Conservation District is the Certified Local Sponsor in Fayette County. An agricultural easement was first purchased on a Fayette County Farm during the 2015 program. To date, over $1.8 million has been utilized by the District to protect six family farms totaling 1,456 acres.
For more information go to: www.agri.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/oda/programs/farmland-preservation-office/home. Interested Fayette County landowners may contact Chet Murphy, FSWCD Director, at 740-636-0279 or firstname.lastname@example.org.