Farmers can apply now for ag easement dollars


(Posted Jan. 12, 2017)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Messenger Editor

The Madison County commissioners have $515,363 to spend on farmland preservation in 2017.

The funding comes from the Clean Ohio Local Agricultural Easement Purchase Program. The program compensates farmers for forever limiting their land to agriculture use.

The application window is Jan. 15-March 31. To be eligible, farms must be at least 40 acres in size and located in an agriculture district. Applicants must demonstrate that their property meshes well with the county’s land use plan and is not in the direct path of development. Funding goes to the highest scoring applications.

“We usually approve two farms a year,” said Julia Cumming, program administrator for Madison County’s Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD).

The SWCD office is available to help farmers complete the application. Appointments can be made by calling (740) 852-4003.

Cumming said the agriculture easement program helps the county to protect large blocks of land for longevity. Larger blocks of farmland lead to more efficient operations and the attraction of other farm-related businesses. Cumming cited as an example Beck’s Hybrids decision to locate a facility in Madison County a couple of years ago.

“Agriculture needs a large base to be successful,” Cumming said. “Ag is an important economic player in our county.”

The easement program also directly funnels state and federal funding into the local economy. According to a study by the Ohio Department of Agriculture, farmers who receive grant funding often spend it on more acreage or equipment, expanding their operations, retiring debt, planning for retirement, or paying for education.

Madison County has participated in the Clean Ohio Agriculture Easement Purchase Program since 2002. To date, the county has used the funding to purchase 13 easements from local farmers, paying out over $4.8 million at an average of $1,296 per acre. All totaled, these purchases have committed 3,727 acres to agriculture production in perpetuity.


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