Madison County Commissioners have been pre-approved for more than $500,000 for purchasing agricultural easements to help preserve farmland in the county.
Julia Cumming, program administrator for the Madison Soil and Water Conservation District, met with commissioners Monday morning to discuss the basics of the program.
“I think agriculture needs a large base to be successful,” Cumming said. “Protecting the land for this helps it thrive by keeping it at this widespread large base.”
Farmland owners with at least 40 acres can apply to receive the easement, which is a payment up to $2,000 per acre from the county in exchange for keeping their land for agricultural use.
The application is scored by a number of criteria and then ranked to determine whom best to award the easement to.
“Our application is a little unique because we have a local section that we populate with conservation practices, to help add a local flavor to our ranking,” said Cumming.
The districts handle the application process. To fund the district’s efforts, commissioners adopted a 1 percent stewardship fee on top of the easement’s cost. The fee is based on the price of the land, which is charged when the easement is awarded.
“From the commissioners perspective you do an outstanding job with the applications and dealing with the applicants,” said Commissioner David Dhume. “We want to extend our gratitude to you for that. It sets the baseline for the program. It makes the applicants want to work with us.”
The two farms awarded last year were owned by Larry and Patricia Kelley, receiving $234,816 on 150 acres, and Dale and Maria Sheridan, $318,225 on 179 acres.
The district will accepting local applications from Jan. 15 until March 31.
To apply, contact the Madison Soil and Water Conservation District at 740-852-4003.
In other business, commissioners approved applying for a grant to reimburse the cost of extending parts of the Ohio to Erie Trail closer to portions of downtown London.
Commissioners said further discussion will be held soon on what land to purchase.
Maximilian Kwiatkowski can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1617 or on Twitter @MSFKwiat