ALBANY, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Friday that more than $31.5 million is being awarded to strengthen New York’s agricultural industry through the Farmland Protection Implementation Grants program.
These projects will protect a total of 15,600 acres on 22 New York dairy farms and eight non-dairy farms, helping to keep valuable farmland in production, encourage diversification, and ensure the long-term viability of New York’s farming operations. Since 2018, New York State has made available more than $117 million for farmland protection statewide.
“Climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic are creating unprecedented challenges for farmers throughout New York State, and preserving their farmland for production will aid our economic recovery,” Governor Cuomo said. “These Farmland Protection awards will give farmers much-needed support to conserve land, diversify their operations to expand market opportunities, and continue to produce and sell a diverse array of New York-made foods. Farming has long been an important part of the state’s economy and this program will preserve more than 15,000 acres for the next generation of New York farmers.”
Dairy Transitions Farmland Protection Initiative
More than $20.9 million will support conservation easement projects on 22 New York dairy farms through the FPIG Dairy Transitions Farmland Protection Initiative. Dairy farmers continue to face challenges from prolonged low milk prices, increasing the threat that viable agricultural land may be converted to non-farm development.
Through this program, proceeds from the purchase of development rights (PDR) on agricultural land will allow farmers an opportunity to diversify their operations or to transition their farms to the next generation at more affordable costs, while ensuring the land forever remains used for agricultural purposes. The projects awarded below will protect more than 11,300 acres of agricultural land.
· The Agricultural Stewardship Association – $1,438,623 to protect Sheffer’s Grassland Dairy, located in the Towns of Hoosick and Pittstown in Rensselaer County; Lindgren Farm, located in the Town of Hebron in Washington County; Ro-Acres Farm, located in the Town of White Creek in Washington County; and Swezey View Farm, located in the Town of Hartford in Washington County.
· The Columbia Land Conservancy – $1,197,732 to protectHigh Low Farm, located in the Town of Copake in Columbia County.
· Saratoga PLAN – $870,826 to protectBarber Brothers Dairy Farm II, located in the Town of Northumberland in Saratoga County.
Central New York
· The Southern Madison Heritage Trust – $825,628 to protect Rocky Top Acres, located in the Town of Brookfield in Madison County.
· The Genesee Land Trust – $2,389,616 to protect Field Craft Farms, located in the Towns of Ontario and Williamson in Wayne County; and Balonek Farm, located in the Town of Wheatland in Monroe County.
· The Genesee Valley Conservancy – $10,376,935 to protect Armson Farms, located in the Town of York in Livingston County and in the Town of Covington in Wyoming County; Emerling Farm #1, located in the Town of Perry in Wyoming County; Emerling Farm #2, located in the Town of Perry in Wyoming County; Heindale Farm, located in the Town of East Bethany in Genesee County and in the Towns of Caledonia and York in Livingston County; Sparta Farm, located in the Town of Groveland in Livingston County; Stein Family Farms #1, located in the Town of Caledonia in Livingston County; and Stein Family Farms #2, located in the Town of York in Livingston County.
· The Western New York Land Conservancy – $453,021 to protect Schmieder Farm, located in the Town of Alexander in Genesee County.
· The Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy – $932,389 to protect Glenvue Farms, located in the Towns of Glen and Root in Montgomery County.
· The Schoharie Land Trust – $247,086 to protect Danforth Farm, located in the Town of Jefferson in Schoharie County. This is its first-ever FPIG award and also the first FPIG project awarded in Schoharie County.
· The Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust – $622,230 to protect North Gage and Red Line Farms, located in the Town of Deerfield in Oneida County.
· The Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust – $1,625,406 to protect Flat Rock Farms, located in the Town of Denmark in Lewis County; and Jasdale Farm, located in the Town of Turin in Lewis County.
Approximately $5 million in funding for the Dairy Transitions Farmland Protection Initiative is still available. Awards will be made on a rolling basis until those funds are committed. The Department encourages its partners across the state to apply for the remaining funds.
This is the second round of the program. More than $30.7 million was awarded in 2019 to 32 dairy farms, protecting 15,102 acres of farmland in Round 1.
Farm Operations in Transition
More than $10.8 million will support conservation easement projects on eight New York farms outside of the dairy sector through the FPIG Farm Operations in Transition Farmland Protection Initiative. As with dairy farms, these farm operations are vulnerable to many challenges facing the agricultural industry today, including trade disputes, changing consumer preferences, and climate change, increasing the threat that valuable agricultural land may be converted to non-farm development.
The viable agricultural land permanently protected as the result of each awarded conservation easement project will remain in continuing agricultural use. The projects awarded below will protect more than 4,300 acres of farmland.
· The Agricultural Stewardship Association – $1,374,555 to protect Hayfields Farm, located in the Towns of Pittstown and Schaghticoke in Rensselaer County.
· The Columbia Land Conservancy – $340,250 to protectTaking Care Farm, located in the Town of Ancram in Columbia County.
Central New York
· The New York Agricultural Land Trust – $1,426,478 to protect Kyle Farms, located in the Town of Ira in Cayuga County.
· The Finger Lakes Land Trust – $1,846,064 to protect Jackson and Burns Farms, located in the Town of Spafford in Onondaga County.
· The Genesee Land Trust – $3,868,838 to protect Packard Cattle Farm, located in the Town of Macedon in Wayne County; Gerlock Farm, located in the Towns of Canandaigua and Farmington in Ontario County; and DeMeyer Farm, located in the Town of Parma in Monroe County.
· The Genesee Valley Conservancy – $2,000,000 to protect Marquart Brothers Farm, located in the Towns of Orangeville and Wethersfield in Wyoming County.
Nearly $3 million in funding for the Farm Operations in Transition Farmland Protection Initiative is still available. Awards will be made on a rolling basis until those funds are committed. The Department encourages its partners across the state to apply for the remaining funds.
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “The awards announced today are a great opportunity for our many growers and producers who are dealing with difficult economic, climate, and COVID-19 related challenges. Thanks to the Farmland Protection Implementation Grants program, we are not only preserving our precious farmland but also providing farmers with the resources necessary to transition or diversify their operations and protect their way of life.
Senate Agriculture Chair Michelle Hinchey said, “Farmland is one of our most vital resources in New York but it faces tremendous development pressure, putting our farms at severe risk of being lost for good. Preserving these irreplaceable lands ensures that farmers can continue to produce the food we depend on and that farms will pass successfully from one generation to the next. The Farmland Protection Implementation Grants Program is an excellent investment and a key part of New York’s strategy to strengthen our farm economy and keep farmland right where it belongs — in the hands of hard-working New York farmers.”
Chair of Committee on Agriculture Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo said, “Preserving productive farmland for the next generation of farmers is an important step in securing our state’s food supply system. Farmland protection helps farms diversify and attract new farmers, both of which are essential for a strong and sustainable industry. Once farmland is lost to development, that land is gone from food production forever which is why these grants are so important. New Yorkers’ renewed interest in where their food comes from underscores the need for continued investment in New York’s farm economy.”
American Farmland Trust New York Regional Director Erica Goodman said, “This pandemic year has forced farmers to adapt to extremely difficult circumstances while still facing perennial challenges from climate change and development pressure. We applaud Governor Cuomo and the Department of Agriculture and Markets for awarding farmland protection funding to 30 New York farm families, enabling them to continue farming, diversify their businesses, or transition their farmland to a new generation. Not only will this funding keep 16,000 acres of land available for farming forever, it is especially timely for New York’s dairy farmers grappling with prolonged low milk prices which has increased the threat of losing viable farmland in communities throughout the state. Farmers are resilient and these funds will provide them with much needed support and hope. We look forward to continuing to work with the Governor, the Department, and the legislature to keep making funding available for farmers to permanently protect their land now and in the future.”
The Farmland Protection Implementation Grants Program provides financial assistance to counties, municipalities, soil and water conservation districts, and land trusts to enable them to implement farmland protection activities consistent with local agricultural and farmland protection plans. The most frequently funded activity is the purchase of development rights on individual farms. However, the program may also award funding to enable other implementation activities, such as amendments to local laws affecting agriculture, option agreements, and covering the transaction costs of donated agricultural conservation easements.