State officials have awarded $1.8 million in grants that will eventually lead to the preservation of 730 acres of farmland.
The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) and the state’s Agriculture Preservation Fund Board combined to distribute the money as agricultural preservation fund grants. The money is allocated to seven local farmland preservation programs to close on permanent agricultural conservation easements, designed to create large blocks of preserved farmland.
Farmland preservation programs in West Michigan benefited from the recent funds: Kent County received $201,294, Ottawa County received $157,500, and Barry County received $130,000.
The grants will cover up to 75 percent of costs for purchasing development rights for the agricultural land in addition to defraying closing costs associated with the conservation easements.
“Ensuring the long-term sustainability of Michigan’s nearly 10 million acres of farmland is the foundation for preserving our food production and supply,” MDARD Director Gary McDowell said in a statement. “These grants assist local preservation programs in purchasing development rights to preserve important farmland in their communities thereby protecting farmland for future generations.”
In total, 24 programs were eligible to submit grants for funding.
To qualify, a county or township must have zoning authority, a master plan that includes farmland preservation, a Purchase of Development Rights Ordinance, and a plan for monitoring conservation easements.
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