Ohio Department of Agriculture Director David T. Daniels recently announced a new way to preserve Ohio farmland.
The Agricultural Easement Donation Partnership Program will reimburse local partners (counties, townships, soil and water conservation districts, or land trusts) for real estate closing and administrative costs to assist landowners with donations under the state's farmland preservation program.
The department has set aside $50,000 to cover up to $3,000 in costs for the donation of farms up to 200 acres. The incentive would increase by $5 per acre for easements more than 200 acres in size. Funds will be equally available in all areas of the state.
"Ohio has gone from zero preserved farmland acres to more than 54,000 preserved acres in just over 10 years. This would never have been possible without the help of our local partners,'' Daniels said. "Today, through this program, we are offering a way to help our partners preserve even more productive farmland at the local level.
''We hope to preserve many more acres of donated agricultural easements through these incentives."
The new program will help provide local partners with resources to respond to landowners who want to permanently protect their land for agricultural production. Tax benefits for the value of the easement donation may be available.
Richard and Trudy Houk donated an agricultural easement on their farm in Newton Township last year. "Our land is under our care for a short period, and it is our responsibility to leave it to the next generation better than when received," Houk said.
"Preserving land for agriculture, woodland production, wildlife or natural beauty is a responsibility of our society. The family farm is a cornerstone of our existence and should be preserved and never lost for future generations."
The department currently holds 53 donated agricultural easements on 6,390 acres.
To review the new program guidelines, visit www.agri.ohio.gov/divs/FarmLand/FarmLand.aspx.
For more information, contact Ashley McDonald, the ODA's public information officer, at 614-752-9817
Mike Wilson is the executive director of the Trumbull Soil and Water Conservation District and is an associate member of the Trumbull County Farm Bureau.