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Agriculture Preservation Fund Grants
To provide grants to eligible local units of government for the purchase of agricultural conservation easements through Purchase of Development Rights programs (PDRs) to preserve farmland.
To provide funds for the state Purchase of Development Rights Program if a fund balance of greater than $5 million remains after making grants to local units of government and providing for administrative costs.
FY 2021 Agriculture Preservation Fund Grant Recipients
Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) Director Gary McDowell, along with the Michigan Agricultural Preservation Fund Board (APFB), has awarded $1.8 million in agricultural preservation fund grants to seven local farmland preservation programs to close on permanent agricultural conservation easements.
The state's Farmland Preservation Local Grants Program provides funding to local farmland preservation programs that are qualified to close on permanent agricultural conservation easements. Twenty-four local programs were eligible to submit grants for funding. Farm preservation ensures communities have locally sourced fresh food and agricultural jobs.
"Ensuring the long-term sustainability of Michigan's nearly 10 million acres of farmland is the foundation for preserving our food production and supply," said McDowell. "These grants assist local preservation programs in purchasing development rights to preserve important farmland in their communities thereby protecting farmland for future generations."
The following local farmland preservation programs received grants preserving 730 acres:
- Scio Township (Washtenaw County) - $825,000
- Ottawa County - $157,500
- Kent County - $201,294
- Webster Township (Washtenaw County) - $200,000
- Washtenaw County - $244,800
- Eaton County - $46,725
- Barry County - $130,000
The fund will distribute $1.8 million in grants covering up to 75 percent of the costs for purchasing the development rights on agricultural land. It also helps pay for some of the closing costs associated with the conservation easements.
The APFB consists of seven members including the MDARD Director (or his/her designee) and the director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (or his/her designee). It was established through legislation in 2000 to award grants to local agricultural conservation easement programs.
To qualify, a county or township must have zoning authority, covered under a master plan that includes farmland preservation, passed a Purchase of Development Rights Ordinance, and created a plan for monitoring conservation easements. Local programs are selected based on the scoring system adopted by the board, that focuses on quality agricultural parcels and program achievements.
A 7-member board, appointed by the Governor, shall oversee the program and be responsible for the distribution of the grants. The board makeup includes:
- The Directors of the Departments of Agriculture & Rural Development and Natural Resources, or their designees.
- Two individuals representing agricultural interests.
- Three individuals representing the general public.
- Proceeds from the payback of property tax credit benefits when Farmland Development Rights Agreements (PA 116 contracts) are terminated.
- Proceeds from the Agricultural Recapture Act (PA 261 of 2000)
- Any other future funding sources
The Department of Agriculture & Rural Development shall establish a grant program. The grant application will, at a minimum, require the following information:
- A list of the parcels proposed for PDR.
- The size and location of each parcel.
- The amount of local matching funds (matching funds may be provided by the local government, a partial donation of the development rights value from the land owner or other organizations or individuals).
- The estimated acquisition value of the development rights.
The Agricultural Preservation Fund Board will establish selection criteria. The criteria will place a priority on farmland that has one or more of the following:
- Farmland that has a productive capacity suited for the production of feed, food and fiber.
- Farmland that would compliment and is part of a long-range plan for land preservation by the local unit of government in which the farmland is located.
- Farmland located in an area that would compliment other land protection efforts by creating a block of protected farmland.
- Farmland that has a greater portion or percentage of the agricultural easement value provided by the local unit of government or sources other than the Fund.
- Other factors considered important by the board.
The Agricultural Preservation Fund Board will review all applications and evaluate them according to the selection criteria established. Once evaluated, the board shall determine what grants should be awarded and the amount of the grants. The board may establish a maximum amount per acre to be paid with money from the Fund.
- A grant will require that the applicant or another person provide a portion of the cost of purchasing an agricultural conservation easement.
Grant applications are to be submitted by eligible local units of government. The term "local unit of government" refers to counties, cities, townships and villages that have the authority to zone property as provided by law.
A local unit of government is eligible to submit a grant application if the following requirements are met:
- They have adopted, within the last 10 years, a comprehensive land use plan that includes a plan for agricultural preservation or is included in a regional plan meeting the same requirements.
- They have adopted a development rights ordinance providing for a PDR program in accordance with the applicable zoning act (county, township, or city and village) that contains the following:
- An application procedure.
- Criteria for a farmland parcel selection-scoring system.
- A method to establish the price to be paid for development rights which may include an appraisal, bidding, or formula-based process.
The grant application form will include:
- A list of the parcels proposed for PDR.
- Size and location for each parcel.
- Amount of local matching funds.
- Estimated value of the agricultural conservation easement.
- Payments can be in installment form for purposes of leveraging local resources and helping the landowner with tax planning.
- The state and local unit of government will jointly hold the agricultural conservation easements. The state may delegate enforcement authority to the local unit of government.
- Upon agreement from both the state and local unit of government, an agricultural conservation easement may be transferred back to the property owner subject to the terms of the easement established by the local unit of government.
For more information regarding the Agriculture Preservation Fund Board and the Local Grants Program, contact Elizabeth Brost, Conservation Easement Coordinator, Environmental Stewardship Division, 517-243-7949.