|By VICKI JOHNSON
REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio — The first grants made through Ohio’s new Farmland Protection Partnership Program were announced Thursday during the seventh annual Ohio Farmland Preservation Summit.
Ohio State University’s Center for Farmland Policy Innovation will support the three projects, which are designed to test new ideas to protect Ohio’s farmland. Each community is contributing at least a 25 percent local match in either direct or in-kind funding.
Jill Clark, interim director of the center, housed in Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, said the grants total more than $100,000.
One grant went to a partnership among the village of Hiram, Hiram Township and Hiram College in Portage County to determine whether Transfers of Development Rights (TDRs) are a viable tool to protect farmland in the township and stimulate growth in the village.
TDRs, which have been used in other states to protect farmland, but never before in Ohio, focus development in areas that have the services to handle growth and protect land in areas that don’t.
Farmers are compensated for protected land and developers are provided bonuses in areas that are able to handle growth.
“This is forging new ground in Ohio,” Clark said. “It’s a very exciting project and will have implications statewide.”
A grant of $17,875 went to Wayne County, which, along with collaborators in Holmes and Ashland counties, will use the money to conduct a comprehensive review of all the county’s policies to determine their effect on agriculture and land use, and then suggest revisions to present to county commissioners. The process will begin in Wayne County and be replicated in the other two counties.
A third grant went to the “Clark County Farmland Policy Innovation Program: Agriculture in the Economy,” which will develop a strategy for finding a funding source to protect an additional 10,000 acres of farmland in its ongoing farmland preservation program - a joint venture with the Tecumseh Land Trust.
The Center for Farmland Policy Innovation began operations in March 2006 with funding from the USDA’s Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service. The goals for the center’s Farmland Protection Partnership Program include supporting projects that would be successful in protecting farmland on a local basis; encouraging innovative programs in Ohio and offering them as examples for the rest of the state; and offering support to help local governments do more to protect farmland.
Also at the summit, U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine addressed the group on the importance of protecting farmland. Dewine, who was instrumental in forming the center, said he will continue to fight for farmland preservation.
“I see a state that is a great state and preserving farmland is an integral part of that state,” Dewine said. “That’s what we want – to preserve this for our kids and grandkids.”
The center is planning to request proposals for another round of funding in 2007.
For more, visit the center’s website at http://cffpi.osu.edu/program.htm
This farm news was published in the Nov. 8, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.