Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the disbursement of $4.6 million in Farmland Protection Implementation Grants to complete projects that will permanently protect 2,200 acres of farmland in five counties. The funding is provided through the State Environmental Protection Fund and administered by the State Department of Agriculture and Markets. Since the program began, more than $128 million has protected approximately 51,000 acres of farmland on 220 farms across New York State.
New Yorks agricultural industry supports communities all across the State by providing jobs and food to millions of New Yorkers, Governor Cuomo said. These grants are helping to ensure that thousands of acres of farmland remain in production, which helps local economies grow and supports a way of life for future generations of farmers and their families.
New York Agriculture and Markets Law authorizes a state agricultural and farmland protection program to provide both financial and technical assistance to counties and municipalities who are developing and implementing agricultural and farmland protection plans. The purpose of a Farmland Protection Grant is to maintain the economic viability of the states agricultural industry and its supporting land base, while protecting the environmental and addressing landscape preservation issues associated with agriculture.
Proposals were given priority if they preserved viable agricultural land, were located in areas facing significant development pressure, and served as a buffer for a significant natural resource such as an ecosystem or wildlife habitat.
The following projects received funding:
- Onondaga County Town of Elbridge Hourigan Farms: $2,125,120 to protect 1,298 acres. This dairy operation owns 1,000 milking age cows and raises its own replacement heifers. This farm is also one of the largest producers for Byrne Dairy, selling over 26 million pounds of milk annually to the milk processing plant located just 15 miles away.
- Saratoga County Town of Saratoga Hoogeveen Farm: $987,268 to protect 390 acres. This is a 4th generation dairy farm that presently has the 5th generation working on the farm and pursuing degrees in agriculture, and is celebrating 100 years in operation this year.
- Suffolk County Town of Southold Maaratooka North Farm: $530,459 to protect 18 acres. This second and third generation-owned business grows holiday plants, perennials and annuals in greenhouses, containers and in the field. The Maaratooka North Farm was purchased for expansion of the existing container nursery aspect of that business.
- Tompkins County Town of Dryden Jerry Dell Farm: $528,210 to protect 419 acres. This award-winning, multi-generational business is the largest certified organic dairy farm in the northeast. The 700 head herd is rotationally grazed on over 300 acres of pasture.
- Schuyler County Town of Hector Argetsinger Farm: $440,700 to protect 73 acres of wine grape vineyards. Grapes produced on this farm have been used by local wineries in the creation of award winning wines at the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition, the Great New York State Fair Commercial Wine Competition and the Golden Nose Competition.
Acting State Agriculture Commissioner James B. Bays said, Through his strong actions and smart policies, Governor Cuomo has shown himself to be a champion of New York State agriculture. These grants demonstrate smart investments in our states agricultural future and will help land remain in production for generations to come.
Dean Norton, President of New York Farm Bureau, said, The farms included in the latest round of Farmland Protection Implementation Grants highlight the agricultural diversity that we are grateful to have in New York. It is important to keep this vital farmland available for future generations of farmers. New York Farm Bureau appreciates Governor Cuomos focus on preserving our family farms and recognizing how agriculture prominently contributes to the rural economy, both upstate and on Long Island.
For more information on farmland protection in New York State, please visit: http://www.agriculture.ny.gov/AP/agservices/farmprotect.html.