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New strategies can save farmland

Published Jan. 15, 2009 | Discuss this article on Facebook
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Buckeye Farm News

With policymakers tightening the public purse strings, farmers may have to become more creative in preserving farmland.

 “In farmland preservation, we are used to raising money and buying development rights, but it’s not the only way to go about it,” said OFBF Senior Director of Local Affairs Larry Gearhardt, offering the following ways to help without requesting funding:

 Zoning

Gearhardt recommends each county have a solid comprehensive land use plan as a building block of legitimate zoning.  “Townships need to be allowed to rely on county comprehensive plans or it will throw zoning into turmoil,” Gearhardt said. A court case in Wayne County threatened to invalidate township zoning because it relied on the county land use plan.  He also said preservation efforts should include agritainment operations, because if they fit the state definition of “agricultural,” such operations cannot be zoned.

 Livestock

“Large livestock farms keep farmers in farming and land in production, and ensure that farmers are making enough money to continue in agriculture,” Gearhardt said. He compared two counties in western Ohio that contain more than half of Ohio’s large livestock farms with two southern Ohio counties that have just one large livestock farm.  He said farms in the counties with more livestock, although almost 100 acres smaller on average, had significantly higher land values. “To keep people in farming, livestock appears to be the answer,” he said.

 Policies

Gearhardt said state policies and plans can have an effect on preservation. He used a farm in Scioto County as an example, where if the Ohio Department of Transportation would have moved its proposed highway project just up the hill, it wouldn’t be splitting a Farm Bureau member’s farm in two and ruining his drainage system.

To hear podcasts from Gearhardt and others who spoke at last year's Farmland Preservation Summit visit http://cffpi.osu.edu/summit08_speakers.htm



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