The Richland Soil and Water Conservation District has shared news that two northwest Richland County farmers have acted to preserve over 300 acres of farmland.
Through the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Local Agriculture Easement Program, better known as the Ohio Farmland Preservation Program, Ohio farmers can receive compensation for placing acreage with a qualified organization that can project the area from development in perpetuity.
In the 2020 version of the program, two farmers in the Black Fork Watershed did just that. Alvin Horst, Jr., a grant and hog producer northwest of Shelby in Plymouth Township, and Allen C. Gwirtz, a grain farmer east of Shelby in Jackson Township, participated in the program.
Each placed about 155 acres of land into the program. State funding made the purchase, and the easement will be held by the Western Reserve Land Conservancy.
Funding for the state’s farmland preservation efforts is derived from the Clean Ohio Conservation Fund, approved by voters in 2008, and used to purchase agricultural easements from willing sellers through a competitive process. From 2002 to 2020, 523 family farms in 61 counties have collectively preserved 72,505 acres in agricultural production. Permanent easements preserved under related programs bring the total acres currently preserved in Ohio to almost 83,000.