State Dedicates Highest Level of Funding Ever to Protect Valuable and At-Risk Farmland
Each of New York's 10 Regions Will Be Allocated $5 Million for Conservation Easement Projects
Eligibility Opportunities Expanded to Agroforestry, Equine, and Wine Sectors
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a record $52.5 million is now available through the Farmland Protection Implementation Grant program to help farmers across New York protect valuable and at-risk farmland. This is the highest level of funding being offered in the program's 25-year history. In addition, for the first time, the program will distribute funds to each of the state's 10 economic development regions, with $5 million being allocated to each region.
"Protecting New York farmland is critical to our agricultural industry, helping to ensure our farmers can continue to produce healthy foods for our communities and invest in their operations," Governor Cuomo said. "As a result of the historic levels of funding being offered, and with eligibility expanded for this important program, we are providing even more opportunities for our farmers to conserve valuable agricultural land, protecting the future vitality of New York farming."
Municipalities, counties, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and land trusts are eligible to apply for grants of up to $2 million each to help offset the costs of individual conservation easement projects that protect viable agricultural land from being converted to non-agricultural use.
For the first time ever, eligibility criteria for the program have been adjusted to include the agroforestry, equine, and wine sectors, reflecting New York's diverse agricultural industry. In addition, other closely aligned State goals have been integrated into the eligibility criteria to allow multiple objectives for certain projects, including food security, climate resiliency, and source water protection. Another first for the program, an incentive payment is now available to participating landowners whose project specifically incorporates climate resiliency or source water protection. Soil health assessments are also now an eligible project cost.
There is no application deadline and applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until available funds have been awarded to eligible projects.
Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard Ball said, "New York's Farmland Protection program has been critical to helping to conserve thousands of acres of valuable farmland over the years and keep it forever in agriculture. I am proud of the innovative approaches the Department has taken to build on these successes and increase the program's reach, including assisting our farmers to diversify their operations, transition ownership to the next generation, and now, expand eligibility criteria so even more farms qualify for the program. This, along with the record level of funding being offered today, will move us toward our next milestone of permanently protecting 100,000 acres of farmland in New York State."
Senate Agriculture Chair Michelle Hinchey said, "New York's farmland serves as the foundation of our food economy, and if we want to ensure a strong agricultural future for New York, we must do everything in our power to preserve at-risk lands from the pressures of development. This record funding through the Farmland Protection Implementation Grant program is an incredible milestone for our state and for farming families everywhere. We are proud of our agricultural heritage in New York and this vital investment demonstrates our commitment to helping more farmers qualify for the program and reinvest in their business while permanently protecting our natural landscapes now and for future generations."
Chair of the Committee on Agriculture Assembly Member Donna Lupardo said, "The Farmland Protection Implementation Grant program is a New York success story. Preserving productive farmland for the next generation of farmers has helped farms diversify and attract new farmers, both of which are essential for a sustainable food economy. I am especially pleased that the program is expanding to include the agroforestry, equine, and wine sectors, confirming the state's commitment to the success of these important industries. I am also encouraged that other important eligibility criteria have been added such as food security, climate resiliency, and soil health, all matters of the utmost important."
New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher said, "Preserving farmland for the next generation is a goal of every farmer. Today's announcement will expand opportunities across the state for farms to take part in this important program, providing economic support and helping to ensure prime farmland stays productive."
Since the Governor took office in 2011, the state has invested more than $113.5 million in 143 farmland protection projects statewide. This funding opportunity continues the state's commitment to provide financial and technical assistance for farmland protection on a predictable two-year cycle and builds on the recent additions of the successful FPIG Dairy Transitions Farmland Protection Initiative and the FPIG Farm Operations in Transition Farmland Protection Initiative.
Round 18 FPIG continues New York State's commitment to provide financial assistance to locally led farmland protection efforts. The Farmland Protection Implementation Grants Program provides financial assistance to counties, municipalities, soil and water conservation districts, and land trusts to enable them to implement farmland protection activities consistent with local agricultural and farmland protection plans. The most frequently funded activity is the purchase of agricultural conservation easements on individual farms. However, the program may also award funding to enable other implementation activities, such as amendments to local laws affecting agriculture, option agreements, and covering the transaction costs of donated agricultural conservation easements.
All farmland protection project applications must be submitted electronically through the New York State Grants Gateway. For more information regarding the Grants Gateway can be found here.