October 25, 2016
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Announces Nearly $4.9 Million Awarded to Protect Valuable and At-Risk Farmland Across the State

TOP Governor Cuomo Announces Nearly $4.9 Million...

Grants Preserve 2,843 Acres on 6 Farms

WYSIWYG

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $4.9 million has been awarded to help farmers protect 2,843 acres of at-risk farmland through the State's Farmland Protection Implementation Grant program. Funding will preserve six farms in Central New York, Western New York and the North Country, and help maintain the land for agricultural purposes and protect it from development through the use of perpetual conservation easements.

"The success of New York's agricultural industry directly impacts the strength of our economy and by protecting land and other precious resources, we are investing in our state’s future," said Governor Cuomo. "As a result of the historic levels of funding in this year's budget, we have been able to nearly double the number of acres protected, reach even more farms and help ensure the future vitality of New York farming."

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Farmland Protection program. Under the Governor’s leadership, the State has not only reinvigorated the program, but also committed historic funding levels to farmland preservation.

The 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 Farmland Protection program itself increased by $5 million this year and built on last year's historic investment in farmland protection, including the $20 million Hudson Valley Agricultural Enhancement Program.

The project awards by region include:

· Central New York - $2.4 million awarded for 3 projects

· North Country - $1.8 million awarded for 1 project

· Western New York - $700,000 awarded for 2 projects


Click here for more details on each project.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Senator Patty Ritchie said, "Preserving farmland is essential to ensuring that agriculture continues to be New York’s leading industry. Agriculture is such a significant part of the economy in the Central and Northern New York regions I represent, and I am pleased that funding I advocated for will be helping hardworking farmers conserve their land. I would like to thank the Governor and Commissioner Ball for recognizing how vital it is to take steps today to help protect the future of farming in New York State."

Chairman of the Assembly Agriculture Committee, Assemblyman 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."

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.

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.

Since 1996, New York has awarded nearly $238 million for farmland protection projects, assisting local partners in 30 counties. To date, 236 projects have closed, protecting in perpetuity, more than 59,800 acres of farmland.

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