Farmland Protection Board to add 120 acres to county program

by Kate Shunney

County officials last week approved the purchase of a conservation easement on a 120-acre farm as part of the county’s Farmland Protection program.

The easement, which prohibits the working farm from being developed for non-agricultural uses, will cost $216,000, said Farmland director Ginger Johnson.

Once the easement purchase is finalized, Morgan County will have 15 farms with a total of 1,108 acres in the farmland program, said Johnson. She said the board hopes to close on the easement by the end of August.

Funds for the Farmland Protection program come from real estate transfer taxes. Morgan County Commission President Joel Tuttle said the county has roughly $730,000 in the farmland fund to use.

Johnson told county officials her board is reviewing applications for two donated easements – farmland property owners who agree not to develop their farms but don’t receive any money in return. One of those easements would be for 20 acres and the other for 88 acres.

Farms in the program are photographed and inspected each year to make sure they are not being developed and continue to be used in line with the conditions of the program.