|Preserving Ohio's Farmland: A Report of Recommendations to the Ohio House Subcommittee on Growth and Land Use|
||Preserving Ohio's Farmland: A Report of Recommendations to the Ohio House Subcommittee on Growth and Land Use
Sara Nikolic; Columbus, OH: American Farmland Trust; page(s) 51; 2004; OH; Reports and Studies
Ohio has experienced a loss of over seven million acres of farmland since 1950, an area roughly equivalent to 23 Ohio counties. Agriculture is vital to the state and local economies, employing one in seven Ohioans and stabilizing the cost of local community services. Land in agriculture can have tremendous environmental benefits, including supporting wildlife habitat and groundwater recharge. And as the rural landscape becomes fragmented, so does much of our state’s cultural heritage. Accordingly, the current trend of farmland loss may result in severe consequences on the economic stability, environmental integrity and cultural identity of the state.
While many important first steps have been taken towards farmland preservation policy in Ohio, most notably creation of the Ohio Agricultural Easement Purchase and Donation Programs, there is much work to be done. This report details the following recommendations to support a comprehensive farmland preservation agenda for Ohio:
Reauthorization of the Clean Ohio Fund
Increased funding for the Agricultural Easement Purchase Program
Legislation to enable the transfer of development rights
Legislation to enable the creation of agricultural security areas
Legislation to enable counties and townships to levy impact fees
Legislation to enable zoning for the support of agriculture
Creation of a state agricultural viability program
Incentives and guidelines for local comprehensive land use planning
Elimination of the five-acre exemption from subdivision review
Incentives for “Smart Growth” planning and development
Together with the current available tools for farmland preservation and rural land use planning, these recommendations would create a suite of policy options for Ohio townships and counties who are striving to protect their agricultural resources. It is only through such a diverse and comprehensive approach that we can truly alter the current farmland loss and fragmentation trends that Ohio is experiencing today, and thereby ensure that future generations may enjoy the many economic, environmental and cultural benefits of a strong and viable agricultural land base.