Stark Co. land trust offers grant help for landowners

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CANTON, Ohio – The first requirement a farm owner has to meet to apply for the state’s new Agricultural Easement Purchase Program (AEPP) is to have a non-profit agency or government help him prepare and submit the application to the Ohio Office of Farmland Preservation.

The Stark County Land Trust is prepared to be the non-profit organization that area land owners can work with landowners to apply for state grant money, and it is sponsoring a series of workshops to help farmers prepare their applications for the program.

Membership. Farmers who wish to participate in the application process with the land trust must first become a member of the organization and attend at least one of three training workshops that have been scheduled.

The training dates are Dec. 5, Jan. 9, and Feb. 6 at the OSU Extension office on Lauby Road near the Akron-Canton Airport. The meeting time is 7 p.m..

The application process will be explained and additional information will be presented at these training sessions.

Reservations for the workshops may be made by calling Dennis Weilnau at 330- 497-1611, Ext. 12.

Overwhelming response. In 2002, more than 440 applications were received from farmers all over the state by the Ohio Department of Agriculture for the program. The total acreage applied for was 63,193.

The overwhelming response from land owners in this first year of grant funding is an indication of the importance families are placing on their agricultural way of life.

The application process has been developed to rank farm acreage based on a set of criteria that evaluate the potential of the farm to remain in productive operation. The highest ranking applications become eligible for funding by the state.

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