PRESS RELEASE: Ottawa County awarded $438,750 grant for farmland preservation


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February 26, 2020 | For Immediate Release

Ottawa County awarded $438,750 grant for farmland preservation

WEST OLIVE More than 168 acres of Ottawa County agricultural heritage is poised for protection thanks to a $438,750 Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (MDARD) Local Farmland Preservation Program grant. Through a competitive application process, this program awards funds to local Purchase of Development Rights programs for permanent agricultural conservation easements. Out of 13 agricultural parcels submitted by nine farmland preservation programs, only five were picked. This is the first time an Ottawa County property has made the cut.

“For the first time since 2008, the Michigan Agriculture Preservation Fund Board has been able to assist local communities in preserving their prime farmland. We were thrilled to have received so many high quality applications, and to be able to help Ottawa County protect over 168 acres of farmland from development,” commented Michigan Agriculture Fund Board Chair Carl Bednarski, who also serves as president for Michigan Farm Bureau. “The Kleins have a long history of farming in Chester Township, and now the family also has a long future to farm this ground.”

Plat maps reveal this Chester Township acreage has been continuously farmed by members of the Klein family since the 1860s. Today, Jim Klein produces commodity crops including corn, soybeans and wheat. With its history and continued use, the property is representative of the scenic, environmental and economic importance of Ottawa County agriculture.

 “We’re ecstatic Ottawa County’s Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) program has been recognized at the state level,” said Economic Development Coordinator Becky Huttenga. “Receiving these funds is a gamechanger for us. We could not have preserved this farmland for the Klein family without this grant.”

With Ottawa County’s farms at risk, it is important that parcels like the Kleins are being preserved – according to the 2017 Ag Census, between 2012 and 2017, Ottawa County lost 8% of its farmed acreage and 17% of its farms. Preserving productive farmland is critical to maintaining a high-quality, affordable food supply, and that is why the Ottawa County Agricultural Preservation Board is working to preserve County farmland using the PDR tool.

Funded through a combination of private donations and state and federal grants, the PDR program preserves farmland through the purchase and donation of development rights for actively farmed property. It is a voluntary program that allows participating landowners to receive compensation for the development potential of their land, yet still retain ownership and other rights associated with it. Through a permanent easement deed, the agreement restricts land use to agricultural, preventing any future development. Additional tools to preserve farmland include agricultural protection zoning techniques via local unit of government master plans and zoning codes, transfer of development rights initiatives, and succession planning.

 “With continued support at the local, state, and national level, the PDR program can succeed in its mission to support our robust agriculture industry and rural character,” said Huttenga. “Working together, we can help protect the livelihood of our dwindling number of farmers by protecting the land upon which their businesses depend.”

A few more steps remain before the Klein property is officially preserved; once completed, the Klein farm will be the fourth farm preserved with the County PDR program. Jim Klein also farms in partnership with his brother, Don Klein, and 56 acres of their Chester Township crop and beef cattle farm were preserved in 2018. Applications to preserve land through the PDR program in 2020 are being accepted now through April 30, 2020. Visit to learn more.


Klein Farm

Media Contact:

Julie Lamer, Farmland Preservation Analyst | | 616-738-4852