ODA announces local ag easements approved for purchase

The Record-Herald

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) announced Monday approval for local sponsors to purchase agricultural easements on 62 family farms representing 7,919 acres in 31 counties. One Fayette County family farm of 253 acres is included in these numbers.

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 Sept. 14 and Oct. 14, 2016. 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. The Certified Local Sponsor in Fayette County is the Fayette Soil & Water Conservation District.

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 2015, 294 family farms in 55 counties have collectively preserved 52,419 acres in agricultural production. Permanent easements preserved under related programs bring the total acres currently preserved in Ohio to 63,049.

For more information go to: www.agri.ohio.gov/divs/FarmLand/FarmLand.aspx. The local contact is Chet Murphy at the Fayette Soil & Water Conservation District. He can be reached at 740-636-0279 or chester.murphy@fayette-co-oh.com.

This article was submitted by the Fayette SWCD.

The Record-Herald