First-ever Regionally Targeted Farmland Protection Grant Program Provides Unprecedented Commitment for Strategic Preservation of Agricultural Lands
Governor Cuomo announced the launch of a $20 million Hudson Valley Agricultural Enhancement Program to help farmers in the Hudson Valley region protect valuable, at-risk farmland from future development and maintain the land’s use for agricultural purposes. This unprecedented commitment to farmland protection in the Hudson Valley was announced in the Governor's Executive Budget and is the first-ever regionally targeted farmland preservation grant program.
"Farming is a rich part of New York's heritage and remains a major industry that helps drive this state's economy," Governor Cuomo said. "This historic investment will permanently protect thousands of acres of Hudson Valley farmland, growing the agricultural economy and ensuring the industry's future in the region for generations to come."
Grants made available through the program will allow eligible entities to assist landowners protect at-risk farmland through the use of permanent conservation easements. Projects on viable agricultural lands throughout a 14-county area may be submitted for funding consideration. For purposes of this grant, the Hudson Valley is defined as Albany, Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Putnam, Rensselaer, Rockland, Saratoga, Schenectady, Sullivan, Ulster, Washington and Westchester counties.
Eligible applicants, including municipalities, counties, soil and water conservation districts, and not-for-profit conservation organizations (land trusts) can apply for individual grants on behalf of farmers to protect viable agricultural land from being converted to non-agricultural use.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Patty Ritchie said, "Every time viable farmland is lost to development, New York State misses an opportunity to expand our agriculture industry, create jobs and improve our economy. In order for agriculture to remain one of our state's leading industries, we need to focus on efforts like the Hudson Valley Agricultural Enhancement Program, which will help to safeguard the future of farming by protecting one of our most valuable resources—our farmland."
Assembly Agriculture Committee Chair Bill Magee said, "Retaining farmlands for agricultural usage is key to supporting New York State’s number one industry; as Chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee, I applaud Governor Cuomo for including this Regional Farmland Protection Grant Program in the budget, and for his continuing support of agricultural development in New York State."
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "It's an exciting time for agriculture in New York State and we're pleased to launch this unprecedented regional program. As a result of Governor Cuomo's leadership, this year, $20 million has been made available specifically for farmland protection in this very important agricultural region of the state, which will provide the support our farms need to create jobs and grow. In addition, with our Department's recent efforts to streamline the overall process, we will be able to help awardees complete projects more quickly."
President of Scenic Hudson Ned Sullivan said, "Scenic Hudson applauds Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets for this exciting new initiative to conserve working farms in the Hudson Valley. It is gratifying to see the State stepping up its commitment to our region's farms through this program, thereby realizing a primary goal of Scenic Hudson’s recent 'Foodshed Conservation Plan for the Hudson Valley and New York City.' Working family farms contribute strongly to our communities and to our statewide economy. We and our Hudson Valley land trust partners look forward to collaborating with the State's program to safeguard important Valley farmland for the future."
President and CEO of the Open Space Institute Kim Elliman said, "As we stand here at the site of the successfully protected Davenport Farm, through the tremendous efforts of the Davenports, the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets, the Open Space Institute, and Scenic Hudson, we get a glimpse of what can be achieved. With enormous gratitude, we thank Governor Cuomo for pledging to invest an additional $20 million into farmland protection in the Hudson Valley. This will boost local economies, keep working farmers in business, protect the New York City foodshed, and preserve the remarkable agrarian legacy of the region."
The Hudson Valley Agricultural Enhancement Program is a competitive grant program administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. The Request for Proposals for the Hudson Valley Agricultural Enhancement Program is now available here. The deadline to apply is January 29, 2016.
For more information and a webinar for the Hudson Valley Agricultural Enhancement Program, visit www.agriculture.ny.gov/RFPS.html.
All applicants must register and apply through the New York State Grants Gateway portal at https://grantsgateway.ny.gov/.