Albany, NY (December 17, 2013)
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the availability of $500,000 to aid farmland protection efforts across New York State. Municipalities can apply for grants of up to $15,000 under this new Request for Applications to amend local laws to better protect farmland from being converted to non-agricultural use. Funding is available through the New York State Environmental Protection Fund and administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.
“Agriculture is an essential part of this state’s economy, feeding millions of families and providing a way of life for generations of New Yorkers,” Governor Cuomo said. “This new funding safeguards New York’s agricultural industry by enabling local governments to pursue smart-growth strategies that protect farmland from future development. I encourage all communities with farmland areas to apply for this grant opportunity to strengthen rural economies and support farmers across the state.”
This Request for Applications is a non-competitive grant opportunity exclusively for municipalities to either amend local laws to remove unreasonable restrictions on farm operations and agricultural land, or establish implementation-ready Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) programs to protect farmland from conversion to non-farm use. TDR relies on a conservation easement to protect farmland from development while also enabling the community to transfer and utilize elsewhere the development rights that will never be exercised on the farm.
Acting State Agriculture Commissioner James B. Bays said, “Governor Cuomo has put agriculture front and center in his Administration and farmland protection is hugely important to the fabric of our state’s agricultural economy. This new funding will enable municipalities to grow while making sure that farmland is protected and preserved for farmers of the future.”
This is the first such application being released by New York State in several years. Another more traditional Request for Proposals (RFP) for other types of farmland protection projects will be released in 2014. The RFP is also available to counties, not-for-profit conservation organizations (referred to as “land trusts”), and soil and water conservation districts.
Application materials and important webinar information for the Round 13 Farmland Protection Implementation Grants Request for Applications are available for download on the Department of Agriculture and Markets website at www.agriculture.ny.gov/RFPS.html. Application materials are also available by calling the department directly at 1-800-554-4501.