ODA announces funding for Local Agricultural Easement Purchase Program

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REYNOLDSBURG – The Ohio Department of Agriculture announced Friday that nine land trusts, four counties and 20 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 $6.24 million will be made available in this funding round. Local sponsors have been certified to accept applications in 47 counties. Interested landowners should contact the certified local sponsor in their county for application details.

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, 480 family farms in 60 counties have collectively preserved more than 77,500 acres in agricultural production.

Fayette Soil & Water Conservation District (FSWCD) 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. Fayette County landowners may apply at FSWCD until Jan. 31, 2020.

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 chester.murphy@fayette-co-oh.com.

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