A prime grain farm in northwest Highland County has been preserved as farmland forever through the combined efforts of the farm owner, the Ohio Department of Agriculture, the U. S. Department of Agriculture and the Cardinal Land Conservancy (formerly known as the Southern Ohio Farmland Preservation Association).
On March 30, documents were signed placing an agricultural easement on 76.758 acres belonging to Kim Hiatt, trustee, in Penn Township’s Careytown area. Having an agricultural easement on the property means that while Hiatt will continue to own the farm and manage it and will be free to sell the farm or pass it down to her heirs, the farm and its prime soils will no longer be in danger of being lost to non-agricultural development.
The signing of the easement resulted from several years of effort which started when the Southern Ohio Farmland Preservation Association (now part of the Cardinal Land Conservancy), acting as a local sponsor, applied for Hiatt to the Local Agricultural Easement Purchase Program (LAEPP) administered by the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Farmland Preservation Office. The LAEPP, using funds from the Clean Ohio Program, compensates farm owners for part of the value by which the sale price of their farm is diminished by being restricted to agriculture.
Besides LAEPP funding, the local sponsor also assisted Hiatt in applying for federal funds through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) administered by the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s NRCS. Hiatt’s applications were granted by both the state of Ohio and the federal government. The federal funding replaced some of the state funding on the Hiatt farm. This, in turn, allowed those state funds to be used to purchase an agricultural easement on another Highland County farm, an organic dairy farm belonging to Mark Dobbs in New Market Township.
Almost all of the Hiatt farm is tillable and the gently rolling fields are used with sustainable no-till procedures to grow a rotation of corn, soybeans and wheat. A picturesque windmill dominates the scene in the central part of the farm.
Like most people who participate in farmland preservation programs, Hiatt is motivated by her strong desire to keep her farm in agriculture forever.
“It gives me such a good feeling to know that this farm will be here for generations to come, continuing to grow the food that is so sorely needed in our world,“ Hiatt said.
To learn more about the Cardinal Land Conservancy or about land preservation efforts in the counties of Adams, Brown, Clermont, Clinton, Hamilton, Highland or Warren, visit the Cardinal website at www.CardinalLandConservancy.org or call (513) 752-2828.
Submitted by Patrick Hornschemeier, chair, Land Protection Committee, Cardinal Land Conservancy.