by Greg LaBarge, Fulton County
Our 10 county area has 35 of 274 farm currently enroll in development easement programs. A map of the state noting farms numbers by county participating is found at http://www.agri.ohio.gov/divs/FarmLand/docs/Farm_ASA_AgMap.pdf. Below is the full ODA newsrelease. Note the deadline is April 6. If interested get started soon as the applications do require some leg work to gather the information and complete the application.
REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio (Jan. 6, 2011) – The 2011 Clean Ohio Agricultural Easement Purchase Program application is now available on the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s website. All applications must be submitted electronically no later than 5 p.m. on April 6, 2011. A hard copy of the completed application must also be sent by registered or certified mail to the department, postmarked on or before April 6, 2011.
The applications are used by the department to evaluate and purchase agricultural easements to preserve Ohio’s farmland. Agricultural easements are voluntary legal agreements restricting non-agricultural development on farmland, with the land itself remaining on the tax rolls and under private ownership and management. Landowners may undertake any agricultural activity permitted under Ohio law. They can sell their farm or pass it along as a gift to others, but the easement remains with the land, prohibiting any future non-agricultural development to make certain that it remains used for agricultural purposes.
The Clean Ohio Fund bond initiative won support from Ohio’s voters in November 2008 to preserve farmland and green spaces, improve outdoor recreation, encourage redevelopment and revitalize communities by cleaning up brownfields.
To apply for the Agricultural Easement Purchase Program, farmers must work through a sponsoring organization such as a local land trust, a Soil and Water Conservation District, or a group of local officials. These sponsors complete and submit applications on behalf of interested landowners. Part one of the application focuses on development pressure, soils, proximity to land conducive to agriculture, best management practices, and local land use plans and preservation initiatives. Part two includes narrative questions regarding the farm and its unique appeal to the program.
To access the 2011 application and more information about the Office of Farmland Preservation, visit http://www.agri.ohio.gov/divs/FarmLand/FarmLand.aspx