Grants Announced During Finger Lakes Regional Sustainable Development and Collaborative Governance Conference
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $10.1 million has been awarded to nine projects to help protect more than 5,500 acres of at-risk farmland in the Finger Lakes. Funded through the Farmland Protection Implementation Grant program, and announced during the Governor’s Finger Lakes Regional Sustainable Development Conference, the projects support the preservation of farmland for agricultural use and protect it from degradation through the use of perpetual conservation easements.
"Protecting our farmland and investing in New York’s agricultural growth is critical to a strong, thriving economy,” Governor Cuomo said. “With record-levels of funding, these projects will support the next generation of hard-working farmers in the Finger Lakes, preserve vital farmland and ensure the future sustainability for the entire industry for generations to come.”
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 unprecedented funding for farmland preservation. The grant program is part of New York State's Environmental Protection Fund, which was allocated a record-level $300 million in the FY 2017 State Budget. Funding for the program increased by $5 million this year. Since 2011, the State has invested nearly $56 million for 73 projects statewide.
"The Finger Lakes region has some of the richest land and finest farm produce in the state and the nation,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “Our growers are integral to the health of our local and statewide economies, and it is essential that we strike the right balance between growth and conservation. Today's announcement affirms Governor Cuomo's commitment to supporting growers and preserving these valuable natural resources for generations to come."
The Farmland Protection Implementation Grant program is administered through the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. 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.
Protecting our farmland and investing in New York’s agricultural growth is critical to a strong, thriving economy.
Genesee Land Trust for Zarpentine Farms, Town of Parma - $303,328
This land trust will permanently protect Zarpentine Farms, a 99-acre orchard that contains 79% prime soils and 2% statewide important soils. Zarpentine Farms is a diversified operation in Monroe County that includes a farm market that features baked goods, maple syrup, honey, and jams/jellies produced on the farm. The property is identified in the Town of Parma Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan as being high value farmland and located within a large, contiguous area of active farmland.
Genesee Valley Conservancy for Christiano Farms, Town of Leicester - $1,970,195
This land trust will permanently protect properties operated as Christiano Farms. This 709-acre portion of the farm is an alfalfa operation that then processes its high quality alfalfa into a pelletized feed (by Christiano Alfalfa Milling LLC, which is co-located on the farm) for distribution throughout the Northeast and Canada. These Livingston County properties contain 93% prime soils and 1% statewide important soils. Christiano Alfalfa Milling remains active after the alfalfa growing season by dehydrating apple pumice and other food wastes into a dried product that is then shipped to animal feed manufacturers throughout the Northeast.
Finger Lakes Land Trust for Brock Acres, Town of Canandaigua - $1,549,645
This land trust will permanently protect Brock Acres, a 726-acre commodity crop farm, which contains 31% prime soils and 40% statewide important soils. This Ontario County project will enable the landowners to reduce debt as well as increase the extent of owned acreage of their farm operation. The farm has more than a mile of frontage along Mud Creek and Beaver Creek. The Town of Canandaigua will contribute $36,450 toward this project.
Genesee Valley Conservancy for Edgewood Farms, Town of Groveland - $1,977,545
This land trust will permanently protect Edgewood Farms, a 1,488-acre cash crop-grains operation, including two specialty crops: distiller grains sold to a local distillery and black turtle beans sold to the New York State prison system for its use in soup. Located in Livingston County, Edgewood Farms contain 26% prime and 52% statewide important soils. The landowners are contributing 12.5% of total project costs.
Genesee Valley Conservancy for Old Acres Farm, Towns of Leicester (Livingston County) and Perry (Wyoming County) - $1,988,110
This land trust will permanently protect Old Acres Farm, a 1,294-acre dairy operation located in Livingston and Wyoming Counties. Old Acres Farm contains 39% prime and 27% statewide important soils. The farm is the first in New York to install a system that recycles its manure into bedding for its cows; doing so has eliminated the need for the farm to purchase any materials such as sand or sawdust for bedding. The landowners are contributing 12.5% of total project costs.
Genesee Land Trust for Chase Farms, Town of Rush - $62,015
This land trust will permanently protect a portion of Chase Farms Partnership, a 54-acre parcel, which is used for hay production that contains 77% prime soils. Chase Farms Partnership is a diverse, multigenerational operation in Monroe County that produces fresh vegetables, fruit, grains, hay, pumpkins, flowers and beef. Genesee Land Trust anticipates receiving federal farmland protection funds toward this project and the landowner is contributing 20% of total project costs.
Genesee Land Trust for Koerberle Farm, Towns of Manchester (Ontario County) and Palmyra (Wayne County) - $540,558
This land trust will permanently protect Koerberle Farm. This 424-acre property contains 54% prime and 10% statewide important soils and is located in Ontario and Wayne Counties. This property also includes nearly a mile of frontage along a tributary to the Erie Canal. The landowners are contributing 12.5% of total project costs.
Genesee Land Trust for Weber Farms, Towns of Walworth (Wayne County) and Webster (Monroe County) - $1,374,510
This land trust will permanently protect a portion of Weber Farms, a beef cattle operation. This 538-acre property contains 66% prime and 7% statewide important soils and is located in Monroe and Wayne Counties. This property also includes more than a half-mile of frontage along Mill Creek. The landowner is contributing a 12.5% of total project costs.
Genesee Valley Conservancy for Marshall Farm, Town of Avon - $339,715
This land trust will permanently protect the Marshall Farm, a 171-acre cash crop-grains operation located in Livingston County. Marshall Farm contains 89% prime soils. This project will help enable an eventual transfer of the farm to a lifelong neighbor and his son, each of whom now work on the farm. The landowner is contributing 12.5% of total project costs.
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."
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.