Protection of agricultural land

Editor:

In Mahoning County, according to the Ohio Department of Agricultural Statistics, we have 82,000 acres defined as farmland – in 1950, we had 171,000 acres. It is getting more difficult to keep the farm in the family.

Property and estate taxes, development pressure and plain old tough times are involved in the decision to maintain the farm. This amount of farmland is decreasing every year due to residential, commercial and small industrial growth in the county.

Though Farm Bureau strives to keep those involved in agriculture informed of the options available to ensure their land use protection, it has come to our attention many are not taking advantage of the Farmland Protection Act, which is a very beneficial program.

Out of the total acreage qualifying, only 25,000 acres are enrolled in this program, also known as the agricultural district program.

Many think if they are enrolled in the Current Agricultural Use Valuation program, they are a part of the farmland protection program. Even though they have the same enrollment qualifications, they are two different programs and require separate applications.

Protection. If one owns farmland in Ohio, there is a law that can help protect that land. It is a law that has important benefits for Ohio farmers and can help ensure proper use of our state’s most important reserve – land.

The law is Chapter 929 of the Ohio Revised Code or better known as the Farmland Preservation Act.

This law helps agriculture landowners deal with water, sewer and electric assessments, nuisance law suits and the powers of eminent domain. There are many other benefits, too numerous to note.

With the residential, commercial and industrial growth in our county, we want to make agricultural landowners aware of this Farmland Preservation option.

The Farm Bureau has worked with legislators to continue giving farmers this program for land protection.

Land can be enrolled in the agricultural district upon application by the landowner to the county auditor by proving it is devoted to agricultural use, or devoted to a federal government land retirement or conservation program.

For more information on the benefits and process involved in applying for the program, contact the Mahoning County Farm Bureau at 330-533-5553 or the county auditor’s office.

If you do not live in Mahoning County, contact your specific local offices.

Tom Koch

(The author is president of Mahoning County Farm Bureau.)

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