Agricultural Easements and Security Areas:

With an eye toward preserving valuable farmland in Walnut Township some of our farmers are participating in the Fairfield County Farm Preservation program.  Currently, Farm Preservation can take the form of three (3) different preservation programs that become a part of the property and is written into the deed for the time period that is determined by the type of program.  The first two noted below are permanent (forever) easements that stay with the property if and whenever it is sold in the future. The third preservation area, is a ten (10) year Agricultural Security Area and as the name implies lasts 10 years and can be renewed.

It is important that anyone who may be considering purchasing land in Walnut Township be aware of these Agricultural Easements.

Clean Ohio Agricultural Easement Purchase Program (AEPP) – Term is forever
Protection of a farm from non-agricultural uses.
When placed over the farm it allows a third party to monitor the property so that it is not developed or altered in any manner that is not consistent with the conservation minded nature of the easement.  AEPP is available competitively to a limited number of farms. The Ohio Department of Agriculture pays qualifying farms some of the difference between agriculture value and full market value of the land.  The landowners release the right to develop or alter the land in any manner that is not consistent with the conservation minded nature of the easement.  There is strong government involvement in AEPP through the County Commissioners (Fairfield Soil and Water Conservation District), Ohio Department of Agriculture or the USDA-NRCS. Tax benefits apply.

Land Trusts and Associations Easement Donations – Term is forever
Protection of a farm from non-agricultural uses and may protect the historic and natural features of the property.
When placed over the farm it allows a third party to monitor the property so that it is not developed or altered in any manner that is not consistent with the conservation minded nature of the easement.  Easements can be written to allow the landowners to allow limited development activities on the farm as long as they are consistent with the conservation minded nature of the easement. Incorporated Land Trusts and Associations are directed by a private board of Trustees.  Locally the Fairfield Land Preservation Association is accepting easements along with the Licking Land Trust and the Appalachia Ohio Alliance.  Tax benefits apply.

As of early 2012 there are 1,120 acres in Walnut Township under permanent conservation easements, with 90 more acres of permanent easements pending.

Agricultural Security Areas – Term is renewable every ten years
ASA’s provide basic protection of the farming community  from the pressure to develop.
Agricultural Security Areas can be the perimeter defense of the farm community.  ASA’s encourage 500 acre or larger tracts of contiguous land to help keep farming a viable business. Townships and Counties agree to not extend utilities and roads into the ASA for a period of 10 years if they accept the proposal.  The proposed ASA  must comply with the local planning approach and helps discourage intense development on our prime soils. Landowners may be eligible for a ten (10) year tax abatement on new real-property Ag-structures if granted by the County and Township.

Fairfield County has a 1,171 acre ASA located in Walnut Township between Millersport and Thurston, created in 2008

To learn more go to:  fairfield land preservation

ag protection map walnut 2011

Other more traditional forms of Farmland Preservation:

Basic Farmland Preservation and Protection available through the County Auditor’s Office include;
Current Agricultural Use Valuation – renewed every year 
CAUV looks at the  farm parcels value for agricultural use not market value.
CAUV assures agricultural land is taxed at its agriculture value not at its potential market value.  Without this, the farm could quickly crumble under a tax burden. CAUV is administered through the County Auditor.

As of the early part of 2012, Walnut Township has 25,000 acres out of a total of 30,720 acres in CAUV, which represents more than, 80 percent of our township. Our township has 48 geographical sections (square miles), and 39 of those square miles are in CAUV.

Agricultural Districts – renewed every five years
Ag Districts provide basic protection for an individual farm and help close the gaps and avoid the forces that can easily destroy a farm.
Ag Districts are basic protection from utility assessments, nuisance lawsuits and legal assistance in eminent domain cases.  This helps preserve the integrity of the farm and protects it from unexpected costs.  This holds the farm together year to year and helps protect the bottom line.  Ag Districts are administered through the County Auditor.