Nearly 500 acres of Michigan farmland preserved as a result of this statewide program

What’s happening: Four Michigan counties and their respective farmland preservation programs will receive a total of $1.1 million in agricultural preservation fund grants, this thanks to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) and the Michigan Agricultural Preservation Fund Board it was recently announced. A total of 492 acres of Michigan farmland will be preserved as a result.

What it is: The Agricultural Preservation Fund manages the grants, which help local farmland preservation programs ensure that Michigan farmland is preserved for agricultural use by purchasing development rights to the land. Property owners retain all rights to their land, save for the development rights sold as a result of participating in the program. This prevents the farms from being sold and developed for non-agricultural uses while also compensating property owners for said rights.

Where it’s going: The $1.1 million is being awarded to farmland preservation programs in four Michigan counties, preserving a total of 492 acres of farmland. They include Barry, Berrien, Kent, and Ottawa counties, awarding $604,800, $120,000, $152,000, and $267,899, respectively.

Why it’s important: “Our goal is to build a legacy of sustainable farming and farmland for generations of Michiganders and Michigan grown products,” says MDARD Acting Director Kathy Angerer. “These grants help local communities work together with farmers to preserve open space, protect wildlife habitat and food sources, and promote conservation for our future.”
Olive Township's Shady Side Farm is now the sixth farm that has been preserved by Ottawa County's Farmland Preservation Program. Mike Bronkema (pictured) and his wife, Lona, bought the property in 1992. (Photo: Rich C. Lakeberg/Ottawa County)
Case study:
For a deeper look at Michigan’s local farmland preservation programs, we recommend visiting Ottawa County online, which has an especially robust presentation of how their own program has been successful in preserving Michigan farmland. This most recent grant award is helping the county ensure the preservation of Shady Side Farm in Olive Township, a 123-acre farm that includes both crops and livestock.

"Obtaining the grant funding made preserving Shady Side Farm possible," says Ottawa County Farmland Preservation Analyst Julie Lamer. "We cannot stress enough how important grants and private donations are to the continued success of this program."

Visit the Agricultural Preservation Fund online for more information about future grant opportunities. In Ottawa County, the application window for the next round of farmland preservation programming remains open until Friday, March 31, the pre-application form of which is available online.

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