Jessica A. Chittenden|
December 20, 2007
Governor Spitzer Announces $35 Million to Protect 13,299 Acres of Farmland Across New York
Funds to Help Protect 35 Farms in 22 Counties
Governor Eliot Spitzer today announced approximately $35 million in funding through the Agricultural and Farmland Protection Program to protect nearly 13,300 acres of active farmland across New York State. The funding is the largest dollar amount ever dedicated for farmland preservation, and will go to protect the largest single amount of acreage in the program’s 11-year history. The funding will go 35 farms in 22 counties.
"New York State has a rich agricultural tradition, and farms are vital economic engines for many New York communities. That is why programs like this are important to preserving and protecting the future of our farms," said Governor Spitzer. "The Farmland Protection Program helps keep struggling farms viable, supports the State’s rural economies, and preserves open space. By increasing the program’s funding and streamlining the grant process, we will be able to protect more acres this year than ever before."
Grant recipients include seven first-time Farmland Protection recipients and ten farms that have been in operation for more than 100 years. This year's round of Farmland Protection funding includes:
· $5.1 million for Long Island;
· $6.8 million for the Hudson Valley;
· $4.1 million for the Capital District;
· $1.6 million for the Mohawk Valley;
· $6.9 million for Central New York;
· $7.3 million for the Finger Lakes region; and
· $2.9 million for Western New York.
State Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Patrick Hooker said: "New York loses valuable farmland every year to development, and we cannot afford to lose anymore. New York’s farms and farm families are at the core of many rural communities. The land they utilize contains some of the richest and most productive soils in the world, and because many farms are located in scenic areas of the State, they are in high demand for development. Governor Spitzer is dedicated to protecting viable farmland, and I thank him for supporting this important program which conserves farmland and maintains Upstate and Long Island’s agricultural legacy."
Senator Cathy Young, Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said: "Our upstate economy depends on having a thriving farming community. Agriculture continues to be New York’s number one industry. These grants will help these family farms in Livingston county remain viable. We must continue to work together to ensure that our agricultural heritage throughout western New York remains a top priority."
Senator David J. Valesky, ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said: "Even as more people are realizing the importance of farmland, both for the economy and the environment, farmers face increasing pressure to sell their farms and develop their lands. These farmland protection grants will help keep farmland across the state open, green and producing. It is an investment in agriculture and in the Upstate economy."
Assemblyman Bill Magee said: "In the 2007-08 budget there was an unprecedented amount of funding for farmland protection. These funds will play an important role in our efforts to preserve our valuable farmlands. We are fortunate that the Governor recognizes the value of these very important farmlands to rural New York."
New York State Farm Bureau President John Lincoln, a dairy farmer in Bloomfield, N.Y., said: "We are grateful to Governor Spitzer and the legislature for this unprecedented level of funding for the Farmland Protection Program. By setting aside our precious farmland to protect it from development, we ensure that our valuable soils and spectacular viewsheds will be preserved for countless more generations of farm families. Today, the heritage of farming in New York has taken a big leap forward."
The Farmland Protection Program provides financial assistance to counties and towns to support local farmland protection activities. The grant money enables municipalities to purchase the development rights on the farmland, which permits farm owners to utilize the equity in the land without selling the farm. The program is open to all counties in the State that have approved agricultural and farmland protection plans and other municipalities that have a local farmland protection plan in place.
New York State has 35,000 farms covering 7.6 million acres of farmland. Since 1996, New York has allocated more than $144.5 million from the Environmental Protection Fund for farmland protection projects, assisting local governments and their project partners in 28 counties to help protect 63,700 acres on 276 farms. To date, roughly half of those project contracts have closed, protecting 27,500 acres of farmland in perpetuity.
More information about these projects can be found at http://www.ny.gov/governor/press/122007grants.html
2007 Press Releases