COLUMBUS, Ohio, Jan. 28, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The American Farmland Trust, Ohio Department of Agriculture, OSU Extension and other sponsors invite farmers, public officials, landowners, planners and land trusts to the 14th annual Ohio Farmland Preservation Summit on February 5 at the Columbus campus of Ohio State University.
"The Summit is designed to provide people with the tools they need to preserve farmland and promote farming, everything from presentations on farmland easement programs, farm business succession planning, local land use tools, to land and water stewardship," said Bob Wagner, Senior Policy and Program Advisor for American Farmland Trust. "We want to build on the success Ohio has already had in purchasing 43,956 acres of farmland easements, the donation of another 7,316 acres of easements and 2,940 acres easements purchased through Ohio's portion of the national tobacco settlement."
The Ohio Agricultural Easement Purchase Program is one of the most efficient in the country spending an average of $885 per acre on easements and requiring landowners to donate 25 percent of the value of the easement to participate.
Ohio is the only major mid-western Corn Belt state with an active agricultural easement purchase program.
Farmland prices are on the rise in Ohio, up 46 percent since 2009, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, causing more problems for next generation farmers.
"These higher prices make it difficult for young farmers to buy or rent farmland," said Allen Prindle, an Otterbein University economics professor and longtime preservation advocate. "But easement donations and purchases may make this access possible. Our Annual Farmland Preservation Summit has tried to bring together landowners and others to learn more about the importance and the operation of programs to protect our fragile farmland. I'm pleased AFT, ODA, and the land trust community have been able to inform many families about the value of these cost-effective programs."
The Summit will feature opening remarks from Bruce McPheron, Vice President for Agricultural Administration at Ohio State University, and breakout sessions on natural resource conservation programs, taxation issues, farmland preservation and agricultural security areas.
The keynote luncheon speaker for the Summit will be Bob Wagner from American Farmland Trust who played a key role in creating Ohio's Agricultural Easement Purchase Program in 1999.
There will also be presentations on the challenge to farmland preservation from natural gas and pipeline development.
"Ohio's farmland preservation programs have pumped $100 million into the state's farm economy since 2002 and leveraged another $56 million from the federal Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program," said Wagner. "With all these efforts, however, Ohio is still losing 50 acres of farmland per day, a trend AFT and our partners are working hard to slow and hopefully reverse.
"Ohio's farm economy contributes $105 billion to the state's economy and is our number one industry," said Wagner. "But without taking effective steps to save the farmland that sustains us and helping farmers stay on the land, Ohio's economy will suffer. There will also be another more basic impact -- no farms, no food."
"One of the key missions of American Farmland Trust is to re-energize farmland protection efforts nationally and in every state after funding for these programs has been cut significantly since 2008," said Andrew McElwaine, President and CEO of AFT. "A survey we released last week shows state funding nationally for farmland protection is still 39 percent below where it was in 2008. Faced with the global need to double food production by 2050, this is unacceptable, and we want to work with national, state and local partners to get these programs back on track."
The Summit will also host an exhibit space and a lunch featuring Ohio foods.
Sponsors of the Summit include: OSU Extension, Farm Credit Services of Mid-America, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, The Andersons and the Western Reserve Land Conservancy.
The summit will be held at Ohio State University's Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center, 2201 Fred Taylor Drive in Columbus from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Registration information is available online at: http://fairfield.osu.edu/events/ohio-farmland-preservation-summit. There is a $50 registration fee for this special event.
American Farmland Trust is the nation's leading conservation organization dedicated to protecting farmland, promoting sound farming practices and keeping farmers on the land.
Bob Wagner, Land Projects Director, American Farmland Trust
Phone: 413-586-9330 ext. 12
SOURCE American Farmland Trust