COLUMBUS, Ohio — Farmland can be a family’s most important asset, recognized for both its heritage and financial value. Here’s some proof: more than 1,900 “Century Farms” in Ohio have been in the same family for over 100 years. And 130 of those farms have been in the same family for more than two centuries — testaments to the importance of farmland to Ohio families.
But there are threats that can cause farmland to leave a family despite its value to family members. Long-term care costs, divorce, debt, co- ownership rights, poor estate planning — these are situations that can put family farmland at risk. The good news is that legal strategies can counter these threats.
In our new publication, Keeping Farmland in the Family, we offer five legal tools that can help keep farmland in a family:
- Agricultural or conservation easement
- Right of First Refusal
- Long-term lease
- Limited Liability Company
These legal tools offer a range of protection for family farmland, allowing a family to use a highly restrictive strategy that protects land for many generations or a less restrictive approach that secures land only for a generation or two. Examples provided throughout the publication can help farm families see how different scenarios play out. The guide does not intend to substitute for individual legal advice, but offers a family a starting point for discussion and decisionmaking with an agricultural attorney.
— Peggy Kirk Hall, Associate Professor, Agricultural & Resource Law
Ohio State University CFAES