Preserving our Agricultural Heritage
By: Denise Franz King
Executive Director, Office of Farmland Preservation
Many people do not understand the impact agriculture has on Ohio, its citizens, and our economic prosperity. Food and agriculture add $105 billion worth of economic value to the state’s economy every year while providing your family with the wholesome, affordable food and plant-based products. Ohio’s producers grow or raise more than 200 diverse agricultural crops ranging from traditional corn, soybeans, and livestock to the production of less-traditional items including nursery products, maple syrup, and wine. Farmland is the basis for this tremendous industry, and because of that, farmland preservation efforts are imperative to each one of us. This is why the Ohio Department of Agriculture has managed a farmland preservation program since 1998.
While the program has taken various forms throughout the years, the goal has always been the same: ensure productive farmland remains in agricultural production. We do this by purchasing easements from willing sellers on farmland property that prohibits re-zoning or development of the land forever.
Farmland preservation gets local
In July 2012 the Office of Farmland Preservation began the process of moving from a statewide competition which favored farms in areas with highly productive soils and well established programs, to a localized program that makes funding available to more counties and where farms compete locally. The fruits of this transition are ready to be harvested.
Director Daniels recently approved 29 new agricultural easements on Ohio farms totaling 4,715 acres. The farms are located in 16 counties, including Clinton, Highland, Jackson and Pickaway, all of which are preserving farmland acres under the Clean Ohio program for the first time. With these new farms, ODA has helped preserve 57,012 acres of farmland on 328 farms in 58 counties. It is an incredible accomplishment, but there is more work to do.
Interested in preserving your farm?
An estimated $6 million will be available to landowners for the next funding round beginning in January 2014. Local sponsors (counties, Soil & Water Conservation Districts, townships and municipalities) must apply between October 1 and November 1, 2013. The application will be available on our website by September 16, 2013. Don’t see your county listed yet? We are reaching out to potential new local sponsors to increase participation.
Farmland, one of our most valued resources, is disappearing in Ohio and all across the US every day. But thanks to the landowners who compete to participate, Ohio voters who approved the funding for easement purchases, Governor Kasich for his continued support of the program, and our local partners for their dedication to preservation efforts, we are working to ensure Ohio’s rich soils continue to produce wholesome food for your family.
For more information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 614-728-6210.