December 14 marked the Richland Soil & Water Conservation District’s first completed easement in the Farmland Preservation Program also known as The Clean Ohio Local Agricultural Easement Purchase Program (LAEPP). Cass & Lisa Gwirtz applied to the program and their farm has been approved by the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) Office of Farmland Preservation in conjunction with Richland Soil & Water Conservation District, who acts as the local sponsor for the program. This means their farm is protected by a perpetual easement from future residential or commercial development and will remain a farm for generations to come.
Watch this video on the importance of the Farmland Preservation Program to the Gwirtz family.
If you would like to consider the advantages of preserving your farmland for future generations, there are two options:
- The Agricultural Easement Donation Program (AEDP) is a tool for landowners to protect their farm’s soils, natural resource features, and scenic open space. It provides landowners the opportunity to donate the easement rights on viable farmland to the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA). The department assures the land remains in agricultural use forever. The standard cost for services needed to secure the easement (i.e., title examination, title policy, escrow, closing and recordation) are covered by ODA. All easement transactions are permanent. They are recorded on the property deed and will transfer with the land to successive owners.
- The Clean Ohio Local Agricultural Easement Purchase Program (LAEPP) provides funding to farmland owners for placing an agricultural easement on their property. Monies are issued for up to 75 percent of the appraised value of a farm’s development rights. A payment cap has been set at $2,000 per acre, with a maximum of $500,000 per farm. All easement transactions are recorded on the property deed and transfer with the land to successive owners. Funds from the purchase of these easements are invested in the local economy by the landowners who use them by expanding their farming operations, purchasing new equipment, reducing debt, adding conservation practices, planning for retirement, sending their children to college or for other purposes. When the state purchases a farmland easement, the proceeds are plowed into Ohio’s economy.
The 2022 Farmland Preservation Program for Richland County is open, and accepting applications thru March 4, 2022. For additional information visit the ODA webpage on Farmland Preservation or contact Matt Wallace at 419-747-8687 for details.
The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) provides financial and technical assistance to help conserve agricultural lands and wetlands and their related benefits. Under the Agricultural Land Easements component (ALE) of ACEP, NRCS provides financial assistance to eligible partners for purchasing Agricultural Land Easements that protect the agricultural use and conservation values of eligible land. In the case of working farms, the program helps farmers and ranchers keep their land in agriculture. The program also protects grazing uses and related conservation values by conserving grassland. Eligible partners include Indian tribes, state and local governments, and non-governmental organizations that have farmland or grassland protection programs. Under the ALE component, NRCS may contribute up to 50 percent of the fair market value of the agricultural land easement. Where NRCS determines that grasslands of special environmental significance will be protected, NRCS may contribute up to 75 percent of the fair market value of the agricultural land easement. In Fiscal Year 2019, the applicant will need to describe how the grassland offered for enrollment fits the definition of Grassland of Special Environmental Significance. Easement values for ALE are based on a fair market appraisal. Though signup is continuous, funding selections are made at specific times during the fiscal year.
For more information and how to apply, visit https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/oh/programs/easements/acep/NRCSEPRD416633/
The Ohio Land Trust Directory was created by the Coalition of Ohio Land Trusts. Formed in 2004, the Coalition of Ohio Land Trusts (COLT) is a voluntary network of land trusts and other conservation organizations dedicated to advancing land conservation for public benefit in Ohio. COLT provides a forum for professional and technical support to the conservation organizations that work to conserve land. Ohio land trusts have diverse but complementary missions, ranging from the protection of watersheds, to the preservation of prime farmland, to the restoration of natural areas.
Ohio Department of Agriculture
The Ohio Department of Agriculture Office of Farmland Preservation implements the Clean Ohio Local Agricultural Easement Purchase Program, The Ohio Agricultural Easement Donation Program and provides technical assistance to communities implementing the Agricultural Security Area program.