A 943-acre working grain farm in Fayette County has been permanently protected by an agricultural easement barring future non-agricultural development.
An agricultural easement is a voluntary and legally-binding restriction placed on a farm. The easement limits the use of the land to predominantly agricultural activity. The land remains under private ownership and management and stays on the tax rolls under Current Agricultural Use Valuation (CAUV). The farmland can be sold or passed along as a gift to others at any time, but the restriction prohibiting non-agricultural development stays with the land.
The Geoff Mavis Farm, located near Bloomingburg in Paint Township, is now permanently preserved for agricultural use under an agricultural easement held by the Fayette Soil & Water Conservation District (Fayette SWCD) and the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA). This corn and soybean farm was preserved through the Local Agricultural Easement Purchase Program (LAEPP), a statewide, farmland-protection initiative administered by ODA using money from the Clean Ohio Fund.
Landowners must apply for Clean Ohio funds through “local sponsors.” Once these local sponsors are certified, they have the ability to submit applications on a landowner’s behalf to ODA for consideration.
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 $2.3 million has been utilized by the district to protect seven family farms totaling 1,867 acres.
Chet Murphy, director of Fayette SWCD, said his organization worked with Mavis and ODA beginning early in 2019 to enter the farm into the program.
“This is the seventh farm in Fayette County that has been preserved under this program since 2015. The entire Mavis Farm is over 943 acres, which made it too large for the available funding. We were able to split the farm into two applications using a Large Farm Exception granted by the Ohio Department of Agriculture. The agricultural easement for one of the applications was completed in 2020. The other in 2021.”
The agricultural easement’s value is determined by using a points-based appraisal method. This method uses the county auditor’s CAUV to establish a base value modified by the auditor’s three-year appraisal and takes into consideration the property’s specific farmland attributes.
“Mr. Mavis felt strongly that his farm must be protected in perpetuity to preserve not only the history of Paint Township, but also the agricultural heritage of Fayette County,” Murphy said. “Mr. Mavis has been a long-time cooperator with Fayette SWCD and USDA-NRCS. It’s always rewarding to help protect someone’s family land but it’s especially gratifying when it’s a farm that has such dedicated owners like the Mavis family.”
Mavis added, “This project could not have been completed without the excellent help of the Fayette Soil & Water Conservation District and personnel from the ODA’s Office of Farmland Preservation, who were always available to guide me through the processes.”
Fayette County landowners may apply for 2022 LAEPP funding at Fayette SWCD until Jan. 31, 2022.
Fayette Soil & Water Conservation District was founded in 1947 as a political subdivision of the State of Ohio. It is governed by a locally elected board of five supervisors. Its mission is to address local natural resource concerns through technical assistance and education.
For more information about Fayette SWCD programs in general or LAEPP in particular, call 740-313-3214.