Farmland prices are on the rise in Ohio, up 46% since 2009, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It is cause for the next generation farmers. Conservation easements can help.
"These higher prices make it difficult for young farmers to buy or rent farmland," says Allen Prindle, an Otterbein University economics professor and longtime preservation advocate. "But easement donations and purchases may make this access possible."
The annual Farmland Preservation Summit Feb. 5 at Ohio State University's Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center will bring together landowners and others to learn more about the importance and the operation of programs to protect farmland.
The American Farmland Trust, Ohio Department of Agriculture, OSU Extension and other sponsors invite farmers, public officials, landowners, planners and land trusts to the 14th annual Ohio Farmland Preservation Summit on Feb. 5 at the Columbus campus of Ohio State University.
"The Summit is designed to provide people with the tools they need to preserve farmland and promote farming, everything from presentations on farmland easement programs, farm business succession planning, local land use tools, to land and water stewardship," says Bob Wagner, senior policy and program advisor for American Farmland Trust. "We want to build on the success Ohio has already had in purchasing 43,956 acres of farmland easements, the donation of another 7,316 acres of easements and 2,940 acres easements purchased through Ohio's portion of the national tobacco settlement."
The Ohio Agricultural Easement Purchase Program is one of the most efficient in the country spending an average of $885 per acre on easements and requiring landowners to donate 25% of the value of the easement to participate, he says. Ohio is the only major mid-western Corn Belt state with an active agricultural easement purchase program.
"Ohio's farmland preservation programs have pumped $100 million into the state's farm economy since 2002 and leveraged another $56 million from the federal Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program," says Wagner. "With all these efforts, however, Ohio is still losing 50 acres of farmland per day, a trend AFT and our partners are working hard to slow and hopefully reverse.
"Ohio's farm economy contributes $105 billion to the state's economy and is our number one industry," said Wagner. "But without taking effective steps to save the farmland that sustains us and helping farmers stay on the land, Ohio's economy will suffer. There will also be another more basic impact-- no farms, no food."
The Summit will also host an exhibit space and a lunch featuring Ohio foods.
Sponsors of the Summit include: OSU Extension, Farm Credit Services of Mid-America, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, The Andersons and the Western Reserve Land Conservancy. The summit will be held at Ohio State University's Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center, 2201 Fred Taylor Drive in Columbus from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Registration information is available online. There is a $50 registration fee for this special event.