October 19, 2016
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Announces $2.5 Million to Protect Valuable and At-Risk Farmland in the Mid-Hudson Valley

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Grants Announced During Mid-Hudson Regional Sustainable Development and Collaborative Governance Conference

WYSIWYG

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $2.5 million has been awarded to five projects in the Mid-Hudson Valley through the State's Farmland Protection Implementation Grant program to help farmers protect more than 700 acres of valuable and at-risk farmland. The funding, which was announced during the Governor's Mid-Hudson Regional Sustainable Development and Collaborative Governance Conference, supports ability of farms to maintain the land for agricultural purposes and protect it from development through the use of perpetual conservation easements.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Farmland Protection program, and under Governor Cuomo's leadership, the State has not only reinvigorated the initiative, but also committed historic funding levels to farmland preservation. Since 2011, the State has invested nearly $40.9 million for 58 projects statewide.

"New York's hard-working farmers are essential to our economy, employing thousands across the state and growing produce that is second to none,” Governor Cuomo said. “With this funding, we continue to invest in the next generation of farmers in the Mid-Hudson Valley and help to ensure a sustainable future for the entire industry."

The Farmland Protection Implementation Grant program is part of New York State's Environmental Protection Fund, which New York State’s 2016 Budget more than doubled, raising the funding level to $300 million. Funding for the program increased by $5 million this year. It also built on last year's historic investment in farmland protection, including the $20 million Hudson Valley Agricultural Enhancement Program.

"As Lieutenant Governor, I travel the State and spend considerable time in rural communities. I see first-hand how strategic investments in agriculture help lift our economy as a whole," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who made the announcement while chairing the Governor’s Sustainable Development Conference in Hyde Park. "In the Hudson Valley and across New York, we must continue to protect precious farmland so our agricultural footprint can grow and so our producers can thrive for generations to come."

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets administers the Farmland Protection Implementation Grant program. Municipalities, counties, soil and water conservation districts and not-for-profit conservation organizations, or land trusts, were eligible to apply for individual grants under the Round 14 Farmland Protection Implementation Grants competitive Request for Proposals. Farms protected under the program remain taxable.

The five projects receiving funding include:

Orange County Land Trust for The Farmer’s Daughter Farm, Town of Montgomery – $300,298
This land trust will permanently protect 197 acres of The Farmer’s Daughter farm. The property, located in Orange County, is a high priority farm designated for protection by the Scenic Hudson Land Trust within the Hudson Valley / New York City "foodshed." This project will help the farm operators to affordably purchase it from the current landowner and thereby continue its agricultural use. Scenic Hudson Land Trust will contribute $105,582 toward this project.

Dutchess Land Conservancy for Uphill Farm, Town of Stanford – $467,645
This land trust will permanently protect a 112-acre portion of Uphill Farm, a beef operation located in Dutchess County. This project will help start a phased transfer of the landowner’s entire farm to the farmers who rent this property as part of their farm operation and thereby continue its agricultural use. Uphill Farm is a highest priority farm designated for protection by the Scenic Hudson Land Trust within the Hudson Valley / New York City “foodshed.” Dutchess Land Conservancy will contribute $5,000 toward this project.

Dutchess Land Conservancy for Potts Farm, Town of Redhook – $343,975
This land trust will permanently protect the Potts Farm, a 73-acre cash crop-vegetable operation located in Dutchess County. Potts Farm is a high priority farm designated for protection by the Scenic Hudson Land Trust within the Hudson Valley / New York City “foodshed.” Scenic Hudson Land Trust will contribute 129,610 and Dutchess Land Conservancy will contribute $5,000 toward this project.

Columbia Land Conservancy for Chaseholm Farm, Town of Pine Plains – $762,725
This land trust will permanently protect Chaseholm Farm, which is a 175-acre dairy operation in Dutchess County. A 109-acre portion of Chaseholm Farm (located in Columbia County) is already protected by a perpetual conservation easement as the result of a prior FPIG award to this land trust. This project will help facilitate another inter-generational family transfer of the remainder of the farm operation, which is undergoing its own transformation to an organic dairy operation. Scenic Hudson Land Trust will contribute $268,225 and Dutchess County will contribute $246,225 toward this project.

Sullivan County for Pellah Farms, Town of Bethel – $652,500
This land trust will permanently protect 196 acres, operated as part of Bethel Creamery, associated with Pellah Farms. This project will help finance the purchase of land in close proximity to other Bethel Creamery lands. Bethel Creamery is a certified organic, kosher dairy farm that features its own bottling facility and will soon expand to include the production of organic, kosher yogurt.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Senator Patty Ritchie said, "Agriculture is one of New York’s leading industries, and if we want it to remain that way, we need to take steps to protect the land used by our hardworking farmers for growing crops and other farming activities. I have been proud to advocate for funding of this program, and would like to thank the Governor for recognizing how key it is to ensuring that agriculture continues boost our economy, create jobs and have a bright future in New York State."

Assembly Agriculture Committee Chair Bill Magee said, "It is imperative that viable farmlands remain in use by the farmers, growers, and producers of food and agricultural products we all need and enjoy. This commitment will assist landowners to protect the land, while helping to grow the agricultural economy in New York State."

Senator Bill Larkin said, "I applaud Governor Cuomo for making farmland protection a priority in the Hudson Valley and for protecting the 197 acres of The Farmer's Daughter farm in Montgomery. By protecting this at-risk farmland, we are ensuring family farming will continue and thrive in Orange County for years to come. I also want to thank Scenic Hudson Land Trust for partnering on this project. By working together, we can keep farming a vibrant and successful industry in the Hudson Valley."

Senator John Bonacic said, "The agriculture industry is one of the most important economic sectors in the Hudson Valley, and I was pleased to support this year’s budget that raised funding for New York State Environmental Protection Fund to $300 million. The preservation of over 700 acres of farmland will allow farmers in the Hudson Valley to continue working their land, and protect it from development."

Senator Sue Serino said, "Our local farms play a critical role in our community and we have an express responsibility to ensure that they have the tools they need to continue operating right here in our area. The Farmland Protection Implementation Grant Program is effectively helping us to ensure that our area farms remain viable, so that they can continue to contribute and add value to our local community. We are thankful to both the Governor and our local partners for utilizing the program to empower farms here in our community."

Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther said, "Agriculture is not only an integral part of our economy, but also a rich part of our history in Sullivan County. Investment in agriculture is a smart investment that yields great returns, and Governor Cuomo knows that. I thank him for his commitment to preserving our farms and protecting our farmers."

Assemblywoman Didi Barrett said, "The Hudson Valley is home to many small and mid-size family farms that are an essential part of our local economy and culture. The fact is many of these same farms are at risk to development. Investments such as this help ensure that our world class farmland is preserved and local sources of nutritious food are protected for future generations. I thank Governor Cuomo and his team for their continued support of farmland preservation."

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "The Governor's continued support of farmland preservation is having a significant impact in protecting and retaining the state’s farmland today for our future New York farmers. The projects awarded today will ensure the diversity of New York agriculture and, in many cases, will help farmers upgrade their operations."

New York State Director of the American Farmland Trust David Haight said, "We applaud Governor Cuomo, Commissioner Ball and the State Legislature in moving aggressively to invest more state dollars in farmland conservation and maintain its commitment to completing state-funded farmland conservation projects more quickly. On the 20th Anniversary of state funding for permanently protecting farmland in New York, it is clear that these resources are critical to things New Yorkers care about – ensuring our ability to grow food locally, strengthening our economy and bringing a new generation of farmers on to the land. These state investments are as important today as when this program began two decades ago."

New York Farm Bureau President Dean Norton said, "Farmland Protection grants play an important role in preserving farms for the next generation. Not only does the program keep prime farmland in production, it also frees up funds for a farmer to reinvest into his or her operation to grow their business. New York Farm Bureau appreciates the State’s commitment to this valuable program."

During the past several years, the Department has been laying the groundwork for a more robust and diversified Agricultural and Farmland Protection Program that now offers grants to address a wider array of farmland protection initiatives that local governments have identified as important to their growth. Examples include small grants to revise local laws to remove unreasonable restrictions on farm operations and encourage municipalities to establish Transfer of Development Rights programs and lease of development rights.

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