Northwest Ohio’s Black Swamp Conservancy will receive more than a half million dollars in 2014 from the Ohio Department of Agriculture to purchase agricultural easements from state landowners to preserve Ohio farmland.
The funding, which is expected to total $564,320, is part of $6 million the state agriculture department’s Office of Farmland Preservation, is providing through the Clean Ohio Fund to 17 Ohio land trusts, counties, and local Soil and Water Conservation Districts to buy easements.
Local agencies such as the Black Swamp Conservancy, which oversees land in Fulton, Sandusky, Seneca, and Wood counties, receive money from the Clean Ohio Conservation Fund to help manage the Local Agricultural Easement Purchase Program.
The organizations are certified to accept applications to sell easements in 46 counties, and applications will be taken online starting Jan. 15.
The program allows landowners to sell voluntarily easements on their farms to the state. The easement, once accepted, requires that the farmland remain voluntarily in agricultural production.
Selected farms must be more than 40 acres, actively engaged in farming, participating in the Current Agricultural Use Valuation program, demonstrating good land stewardship, receiving local government support, and not be in close proximity to development.
Most landowners reinvest the proceeds in operations, the state agricultural department said.
Though the latest round of funding totals $6 million, the money is expected to be combined with $18 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program. Under a formula, the Black Swamp Conservancy may receive another $1.7 million from the federal program to buy easements.
Ohio voters approved the Clean Ohio Conservation Fund in 2008.
The state and federal programs combined have accepted easements from 303 Ohio family farms in 48 counties and preserved 52,662 acres of productive farmland.