REYNOLDSBURG — The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) today announced approval for local sponsors to purchase agricultural easements on 54 family farms representing 7,512 acres in 26 counties.
Local sponsoring organizations, which include land trusts, counties, a township 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. 15 and Oct. 15, 2015. 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 2014, 247 family farms in 53 counties have collectively preserved 45,576 acres in agricultural production. Permanent easements preserved under related programs bring the total acres currently preserved in Ohio to 55,947.
For more information go to www.agri.ohio.gov/divs/FarmLand/FarmLand.aspx.