Web Content Viewer
Actions
Farmland Preservation Toolkit
Farmland Preservation Toolkit

ABOUT

The Office of Farmland Preservation partners with landowners, local government, soil and water conservation districts and land trusts to permanently preserve Ohio farms in agricultural easements. An agricultural easement is a voluntary, perpetual agreement between a landowner and the Ohio Department of Agriculture that permanently preserves Ohio farms in agricultural production, strengthening Ohio’s number one industry: food and agriculture. The farmland can be sold or passed along as a gift to others at any time, but the restrictions prohibiting non-agricultural development stays with the land. Since 1999, ODA has accepted easements from Ohio citizens to support the preservation of farmland for future generations. The Office of Farmland Preservation has preserved 49 farms, totaling approximately 6,000 acres, through this program.

What is an easement?

The Office of Farmland Preservation partners with landowners, local government, soil and water conservation districts and land trusts to permanently preserve Ohio farms in agricultural easements. An agricultural easement is a voluntary, perpetual agreement between a landowner and the Ohio Department of Agriculture that permanently preserves Ohio farms in agricultural production, strengthening Ohio’s number one industry: food and agriculture. The farmland can be sold or passed along as a gift to others at any time, but the restrictions prohibiting non-agricultural development stays with the land.

How do I know if my farm is eligible?

To be eligible for the program, the land must meet the following criteria:

  • The applicant farm must be enrolled in CAUV and the Agricultural District Program through the county auditor’s office.
  • The farm must be a minimum of 40 acres unless the farm is adjacent to preserved farmland, then it must be a minimum of 25 acres.
  • Any liens or mortgages on the farm must be subordinated to the easement.
  • The farmland owner must certify the property does not contain hazardous substances.
  • The farmland owner must have followed state and federal agricultural laws for the past five years.
  • The farmland owners must have possession of clear title to the applicant property.

Easement Types

Agricultural Easement Donation Program (AEDP)

The Agricultural Easement Donation Program (AEDP) is a tool for landowners to protect their farm’s soils, natural resource features, and scenic open space. It provides landowners the opportunity to donate the easement rights on viable farmland to the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA).  The department assures the land remains in agricultural use forever. The standard cost for services needed to secure the easement (i.e., title examination, title policy, escrow, closing and recordation) are covered by ODA. All easement transactions are permanent. They are recorded on the property deed and will transfer with the land to successive owners.
Requirements:
To be eligible for the program, the land must meet the following criteria:

  • The applicant farm must be enrolled in CAUV and the Agricultural District Program through the county auditor’s office.
  • The farm must be a minimum of 40 acres unless the farm is adjacent to a preserved farm, then it must be a minimum of 25 acres.
  • Any liens or mortgages on the farm must be subordinated to the easement.
  • The farmland owner must certify the property does not contain hazardous substances.
  • The farmland owner must have been in compliance with state and federal agricultural laws for the past five years.
  • The farmland owner must have possession of clear title to the applicant property.

Clean Ohio Local Agricultural Easement Purchase Program (LAEPP)

The Clean Ohio Local Agricultural Easement Purchase Program (LAEPP) provides funding to farmland owners for placing an agricultural easement on their property. Monies are issued for up to 75 percent of the appraised value of a farm’s development rights. A payment cap has been set at $2,000 per acre, with a maximum of $500,000 per farm. All easement transactions are recorded on the property deed and transfer with the land to successive owners.

Funds from the purchase of these easements are invested in the local economy by the landowners who use them by expanding their farming operations, purchasing new equipment, reducing debt, adding conservation practices, planning for retirement, sending their children to college or for other purposes. When the state purchases a farmland easement, the proceeds are plowed into Ohio’s economy.

Requirements

  • The following requirements must be met by the farmland and owner at the time of application submission:
  • The farm must be enrolled in CAUV and the Agricultural District Program through the county auditor’s office.
  • The farm must be a minimum of 40 acres unless the farm is adjacent to a preserved farm, then it must be a minimum of 25 acres.

NOTE: Farms that are 10-24 acres and also share a substantial border with permanently protected land compatible with agriculture must submit a written request with supporting documentation before eligibility for application can be determined.
 

  • The farmland owner must certify that the property does not contain hazardous substances.
  • The farmland owner must have been in compliance with state and federal agricultural laws for the past five years.
  • The farmland owner must have possession of the clear title to the applicant property.
  • The local sponsor must agree to share monitoring and enforcement responsibilities.
  • A minimum of 25 percent of the points-based appraised value of the agricultural easement must be provided either in cash match by the local sponsor, donation by the landowner, or a combination of donation and cash match.

Timeline 

Agricultural Easement Donation Program (AEDP)

  1. Contact ODA Farmland Preservation to set up a meeting with the staff to review the program.
  2. Staff or the local partnering organization will conduct a site visit to the farm.
  3. Before accepting a donated agricultural easement, ODA will give notice of the donation to local elected officials, including county commissioners, township trustees, and the mayor of any municipality within a quarter mile of the farm. The local officials will be given 30 days to review and comment on the proposed donation. If one or more local elected governments object to the donation for a “valid” reason, the Director of ODA may decline the donation. A valid reason might be that the local government has officially designated the property for non-farm use.

Clean Ohio Local Agricultural Easement Purchase Program (LAEPP)

  1. Landowners must apply for Clean Ohio funds through local governments (such as counties, townships, and municipalities), Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD), or a charitable organization. These entities are referred to as “local sponsors.”
  2. Once a local sponsor is certified, they can submit applications on a landowner’s behalf to ODA for consideration.
  3. Application opportunities are open for a maximum of 90 days.
  4. Interested landowners are encouraged to contact potential local sponsors for more information.

FAQs

What is an agriculture easement?

An agricultural easement is a voluntary and legally-binding restriction placed on a farm. The easement limits the use of the land to predominantly agricultural activity. The land remains under private ownership and management and stays on the tax rolls under Current Agricultural Use Valuation (CAUV). The farmland can be sold or passed along as a gift to others at any time, but the restriction prohibiting non-agricultural development stays with the land.

How do I get started if I’m interested in Farmland Preservation for my land?

If interested in participating in the program, a landowner should contact the Local Sponsor who represents their county. If no Local Sponsor currently serves the county in which your property is located, please contact the Office of Farmland Preservation for more information. 

What land is eligible to be in the program?

The minimum requirements for eligible land to apply for the Local Agriculture Easement Purchase Program (LAEPP) include:

  • A minimum of 40 acres
  • Enrolled in Current Agriculture Use Value (CAUV)
  • Enrolled in an Agriculture District 

If your property does not meet these requirements but is a minimum of 25 acres and borders a protected ODA Agriculture Easement property, please contact the Office of Farmland Preservation. 
How do I get started? You may request a Farmland Preservation packet here.  

Other Farmland Preservation Resources:

Donation Brochure
AEDP Guidelines
LAEPP Policies & Guidelines
Sample Purchase Agreement
Sample Donation Deed
Clean Ohio LAEPP Brochure

LAEPP State Deed Template

Landowner Brochure

Tax Incentive Brochure