County receives funds for farmland preservation

(Posted Jan. 3, 2024)

In December, the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) announced that nine land trusts, seven counties or townships, and 25 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).

Ohio landowners interested in selling an agricultural easement on their farms can fill out an application with their LAEPP sponsor organization. A total of $6 million will be made available in this round of funding. Local sponsors have been certified to accept applications in 51 counties. Landowners should contact the certified local sponsor in their county for application details.

ODA has allocated $192,227 to the Madison County commissioners for the program in 2024. The Madison Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) administers the program locally. For more information, contact SWCD program coordinator Julia Cumming at julia.cumming@oh.nacdnet.net or (740) 852-4004. The office is located at 831 U.S. Hwy. 42 NE, London.

LAEPP allows landowners to voluntarily sell easements on their farms to the state of Ohio.

The easement requires the farm permanently remain 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 lie 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, 704 family farms in 62 counties have collectively preserved more than 105,000 acres in agricultural production.

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