Agricultural District

General Information

In 1982, the Ohio General Assembly forged a new law that will help keep Ohio farming. Senate Bill 78 or better known as the Farmland Preservation Act is a law that every farmland owner needs to be aware of. The law has important benefits for Ohio farmers and can help insure proper use of our state’s most important resource – land. The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation was instrumental in the construction of this law. The law can help landowners deal with water and sewer assessments, nuisance lawsuits and the powers of eminent domain.

The motivation behind the Farmland Preservation Act is to remove outside pressures that cause farmland to be converted to other uses.

Minimum Qualifications

Persons wanting to place land in an agricultural district need to only consider a couple of minimum requirements. First, the land must be devoted to agriculture or to a federal government land retirement or conservation program. Secondly, the land must be composed of tracts, lots or parcels that total not less than 10 acres or have an average gross income of at least $2,500 during the past three years.

Forming an Agricultural District

Simply visit the County Auditor’s Office and file an application during the first Monday of January and prior to the first Monday in March. Any owner of land used in agricultural production can place land in an agricultural district. The Auditor will determine if the land meets the minimum qualifications and will provide written notice to the landowner.

In the case where the land falls inside the bounds of a municipal corporation an additional application must be made to the city or village. Except when the land lies inside a municipality, the creation of an agricultural district is automatic when the qualifications are met.

Please complete the Agricultural District Application if you would like to apply for the Ag District.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Ag District Program

The statute allows landowners to voluntarily create an agricultural district. However, certain minimum requirements must be met. Owners who place land in an agricultural district receive a deferment on collection of any new water, sewer and electric assessments as long as the land is farmed. There is legal protection for any generally accepted agricultural practice in the event a nuisance lawsuit is made against the farming operation. There is also limited protection against the use of eminent domain powers of government. In addition, to the benefits of forming an agricultural district, all farm operators profit from other aspects of the law. The law relaxes the air pollution standards for agricultural production activities. It also protects farm market operators from certain zoning regulations. The law also requires the power sitting commission to consider the impact of new power facilities on agricultural districts. And finally, farm operators using generally accepted agricultural practices are exempted from locally established nuisance statutes.
There is no charge for forming an agricultural district.
The agricultural district uses minimum land criteria to qualify for the program, which is similar to CAUV. The same land can be in either program or in both programs. However, filing an application for one program does not automatically include the other. A separate application is needed for each program.
An agricultural district is a commitment for five years. Converting the land to another use after the five year period carries no penalty and there is no obligation to sign up again. If land is withdrawn prior to the five year expiration date there is a penalty.
If the owner’s action also disqualifies the owner’s land for any tax savings that it had been receiving under sections 5713.30 to 5713.38 of the Revised Code (CAUV), the owner shall pay a percentage of the amount charged under section 5713.34 (recoupment of tax savings on converted lands) of the Revised Code that is equal to the average bank prime rate at the time the amount charged under that section is required to be paid. The withdrawal penalty shall be in addition to the amount charged under that section.
If the land had not been receiving any tax savings under those sections, or if the owner’s action does not disqualify the land for tax savings under them, the owner shall pay a percentage of the amount that would have been charged under section 5713.34 (recoupment of tax savings on converted lands) of the Revised Code if the owner’s land had been receiving tax savings and became disqualified for them in an amount that is equal to the average bank prime rate at the time the amount that would have been charged under that section would have been required to be paid.
No, but if a public entity uses eminent domain powers for more than 10 acres or 10 percent of the agricultural district, additional review procedures are required.
An agricultural district expires five years from the date of application. The County Auditor will mail notices along with CAUV mailed notices. To simplify renewal, the applicant may renew anytime after the first Monday in January during the fifth year of the agricultural district. After the first Monday in March, the County Auditor will notify all those who have not renewed. Failure to renew by the first Monday in April will cause the land to be removed from the agricultural district upon its termination date.
If the land proposed for an agricultural district is within a municipal corporation or an annexation petition has been filed, the owner must also file for the agricultural district with the city or village. Within 30 days the municipal corporation must approve, modify or reject the application. If modified or rejected, it must “demonstrate a substantial adverse effect” on the provision of municipal services, the efficient use of land, orderly growth and development or public health, safety or welfare. Modifications may include but are not exhaustive to the limiting of assessment benefits, nuisance protection and duration of district. If the land becomes annexed by a municipality after it is already in an agricultural district, then the municipality does not have the power to review the application providing: • the land was not sold or transferred to another person (except within the immediate family). • the owner that established the district did not sign the annexation petition. • the owner did not vote in favor of annexation.