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January 21st, 2020

American Farmland Trust seeks to help farmers permanently protect farmland in five counties in Central Ohio 

 

COLUMBUSOH — American Farmland Trust, the organization behind the national movement No Farms No Food®, has been approved by the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Local Agricultural Easement Purchase Program, or LAEPP, to serve as a local sponsor for the facilitation of land protection in Crawford, Franklin, Union, Harden and Pickaway counties.

 

Through LAEPP, landowners work with a local sponsor to voluntarily sell an agricultural conservation easement to the state of Ohio and permanently protect their farm. An agricultural conservation easement removes the development rights from a property and keeps the land permanently available for agricultural use. Landowners continue to own the land and can sellbequeath and mortgage the property. 

 

As one of the nation’s first agricultural land trusts, AFT has been actively working to protect farmland and ranchland since 1980. Since AFT’s creation, numerous local conservation entities with the expertise to help landowners permanently protect their land have started working in Ohio and many other states.  Accordingly, AFT only works in those areas where landowners lack local options. The five counties in Ohio where AFT has been approved to solicit easement applications are not currently served by agricultural land trusts or Soil and Water Conservation Districts that permanently protect agricultural resources.

 

Portions of the five counties overlap with AFT’s work in the Upper Scioto watershed, a project that aims to improve water quality in Central Ohio and, ultimately, the Gulf of MexicoRecognizing the contribution that nutrient runoff can play in impairing waterways, AFT is working with farmers in the watersheto increase awareness and adoption of the best farming practices to achieve both cleaner water and farm/landowner profitability goals. Landowners who have implemented conservation practices on their farm may be interested in permanently protecting that environmental investment through a conservation easement. Similarly, landowners who have signed an easement on their land may wish to pursue strategies for protecting the farms soil and water resources. AFT seeks applicants for funding to pursue these strategies.

To be eligible, the land must meet the following requirements:

 

  • All parcels must be enrolled in Current Agricultural Use Valuation, or CAUV, through the county auditor’s office where the farm is located.
  • All parcels must be enrolled in the Agricultural District Program through the county auditor’s office where the farm is located.
  • All contiguous parcels under the same ownership must be included in the application.
  • The farm must be at least 40 acres in size or 25 acres in size and adjacent to protected land that is compatible with agriculture.
  • The farm may not be engaged in any nonagricultural commercial activities
  • All parcels must be owned by the same legal entity.

 

 Conserving land with an easement is an important decision for landowners and their families. Placing an easement on a property ensures that important agricultural and natural resources are protected forever a true investment in the land these farm families holdWith the sale of an easement, the landowners receive a cash infusion that can help them increase revenues and profitability through the purchase of new equipment or buildings, operational expansion or the launch of new ventures. The cash can provide senior farmers with a means to retire and the opportunity to pass along the farm to the next generation.  

 

If you are a farmer in the Ohio counties of Crawford, Franklin, Union, Harden or Pickaway and meet or think you meet the minimum requirements set by the Local Agricultural Easement Purchase Program, please contact us as soon as possible to talk about your farm and to receive a pre-application. AFT is accepting pre-applications until Feb28, 2020.

 

Farmer contact Alison Volk: avolk@farmland.org or 610-812-6578 

 

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American Farmland Trust is the only national organization that takes a holistic approach to agriculture, focusing on the land itself, the agricultural practices used on that land, and the farmers and ranchers who do the work. AFT launched the conservation agriculture movement and continues to raise public awareness through our No Farms, No Food message. Since our founding in 1980, AFT has helped permanently protect over 6.5 million acres of agricultural lands, advanced environmentally-sound farming practices on millions of additional acres and supported thousands of farm families.