Local governments throughout Ohio are seeking ways to guide development and protect open land, including working farmland. The most recent addition to the list of policy instruments is the Agricultural Easement Purchase Program administered by the Ohio Department of Agriculture. The program allows the State to provide matching grants for communities or land trusts to purchase agricultural easements from willing landowners. The program has provided real substance to the farmland protection effort through out the state. Purchasing agricultural easements is effective, but expensive. While the program forms a starting point for Ohio farmland policy, it is not enough on its own to resolve the conflicting demands for development and farmland protection. Other available options in the Ohio package include ruralzoning, whose application has been spotty at best, and the Current Agricultural Use Value Assessment program, which helps farmers avoid the tax burden of speculative increases in land value. CAUV is important, but hardly adequate to significantly alter the pattern of rurall and use change.
By Lawrence Libby