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Web letter by Mike Yoder: Putting farmland in trust brings wealth of benefits

In 2013, Wood-Land-Lakes RC&D Land Trust is positioned to move above the 10,000-acre mark for protecting farmland. The non-profit organization, established two decades ago, is one of the few land trusts in Indiana that focuses solely on protecting farms and farmland from development. Wood-Land-Lakes specializes in working with farmers who desire to protect farms and farmland from commercial development for future generations. This purpose is becoming increasingly important as world population growth in the next 40 years will create a need to double food production – utilizing the same acres we farm today.

The tax legislation signed to avoid the fiscal cliff renewed generous federal income tax breaks for landowners who permanently preserve their farmland – 2013 may be a good year to consider a conservation easement on farmland. According to a recent Wall Street Journal story, beneficial tax opportunities will be in place for at least the rest of this year.

Wood-Land-Lakes accepts the contributions of landowner’s development rights with conservation easements. These legal contracts protect the use of farmland in perpetuity. The landowner still owns the farmland and can use it, sell it or pass it on to their heirs; the easement only protects the land from future development. Wood-Land-Lakes’ experience in these specialized contracts helps farmers design farmland protection for current farming uses but also allows for future farming practices that have yet to be imagined. The primary goal of the farmers and the land trust is preservation of a food-production system.

Wood-Land-Lakes encourages farmers and farmland owners who have been considering conservation easements in the past to seriously consider making the move this year before the tax benefits are potentially lost. An easement process can take three to six months to complete, so starting now is not too early.

For more information, visit our website at or call the office at (260) 665-7723.