(A) Only local sponsors which have been designated as certified according to the requirements of this rule, may accept applications from landowners for agricultural easement matching grants, and select landowners for matching grants using the requirements and procedures in this chapter.
(B) A certified local sponsor is a municipal corporation, board of county commissioners or township trustees, a soil and water conservation district or land trust that has demonstrated, as proscribed by the director, that the local sponsor would have the managerial, legal and financial expertise to:
(1) Operate a local agricultural easement purchase program and apply for matching grants; and,
(2) Share legal responsibility with the department to hold, monitor, supervise, and enforce the provisions of an agricultural easement.
(C) To be designated a certified local sponsor, an organization must:
(1) Apply to the department on a form provided by the director;
(2) Meet all requirements for participation in the certified local sponsor program as indicated on the application;
(3) On approval of the application for certification, the certified local sponsor shall sign a cooperative agreement with the department.
(4) If the local sponsor is a charitable organization, it must submit:
(a) A copy of the organization's exemption under 26 U.S.C. 1, subsection 501(a) and 501(c);
(b) A copy of the organization's by-laws or regulations stating that farmland preservation is one of its purposes;
(c) A list of the organization's officers, board of directors, and members;
(d) The organization's financial condition, including a balance sheet, revenue and expense statement, and the financing available for monitoring and enforcing an agricultural easement;
(e) The organization's ability to provide the necessary managerial, legal and financial expertise to hold, monitor, and enforce an agricultural easement; and
(f) A statement of the organization's stewardship endowment policy.
(D) If a points-based appraisal is used for determining valuation, the certified local sponsor shall use the department's points-based appraisal system.