The Ohio Department of Agriculture recently announced that Delaware County was one of three counties and 20 other entities to receive allocations to help preserve farmland across the state.
Delaware County commissioners will receive $202,697 from the Clean Ohio Fund to select, close and monitor easements under the Local Agricultural Easement Purchase Program (LAEPP).
A total of $6.3 million is available statewide for this funding round.
All three county commissioners have been supportive of this initiative, according to Delaware Soil and Water Conservation District officials.
Gary Merrell, president of the Delaware County Commission, said: “It is important that farmland in our county be set aside when and where appropriate. The commissioners were all excited to learn that we had been chosen as part of the farmland preservation program through the Local Agricultural Easement Purchase Program. This is an important program to Delaware County, its farmers and all of our residents. We look forward to working with the state in implementing this program.”
LAEPP allows landowners to voluntarily sell easements on their farms to the state. The easement requires the farm remain permanently in agriculture production. Selected farms must be 40 acres or more (with some exceptions), actively engaged in farming, participate in the Current Agricultural Use Valuation program, demonstrate good stewardship of the land, have the support of their local government and not lay directly in the path of development, according to SWCD officials. Landowners may use the proceeds of the easement in any way they wish, but most reinvest it in their farm operations, they said.
Funding for the program is derived from the Clean Ohio Conservation Fund, approved by voters in 2008. Nearly 400 family farms in 54 counties have collectively preserved more than 59,000 acres in agricultural production.
For more information on Ohio’s farmland preservation effort, visit www.agri.ohio.gov/divs/FarmLand/. To learn more about Delaware County’s program, call the SWCD at 740-368-1921.
Information for this story was provided by the Delaware Soil and Water Conservation District.