Seven Michigan farmland preservation programs have received $2 million in state funding to assist farmers with costs related to development rights on agricultural land and conservation easements.
The funding from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) and Michigan Agricultural Preservation Board will help preserve 1,144 acres, state officials announced today.
Programs in Ottawa, Kent, Barry and Berrien counties received nearly $1.2 million in combined funding, including $657,750 for Barry County.
This year’s grant funding is slightly higher than last year, when $1.8 million was awarded to preserve 730 acres of farmland.
“Michigan is home to nearly 10 million acres of farmland, and that land is the foundation of our food production and supply,” MDARD Director Gary McDowell said in a statement. “We must continue to ensure the long-term sustainability of those acres. These grants allow for us to invest in Michigan's growing agricultural industry while protecting farmland for future generations. These funds set up the next generation of farmers for success.”
Twenty-four preservation programs were eligible to submit funding grants. The funding assists local farmers with up to 75 percent of the costs related to development rights on agricultural land and also helps pay closing costs on conservation easements.
To qualify, a county or township is required to have a zoning authority, a master plan that includes farmland preservation, a purchase of development rights ordinance, and a plan for monitoring conservation easements. Programs that apply for funding are then scored by the Michigan Agricultural Preservation Fund Board, which consists of seven members, including McDowell.