Agricultural and Farmland Protection Program
“It is hereby found and declared that agricultural lands are irreplaceable state assets. In an effort to maintain the economic viability, and environmental and landscape preservation values associated with agriculture, the state must explore ways to sustain the state’s valuable farm economy and the land base associated with it. It is therefore declared the policy of the state to promote local initiatives for agricultural and farmland protection.”
The Agricultural and Farmland Protection Program was formed under Article 25-AAA of the Agriculture and Markets law in an effort to encourage further development of agriculture and farmland as part of the NYS Legislature’s constitutional mandate to provide for the protection of agricultural lands. These programs, at the initial stage, help counties and municipalities plan for the future of agriculture in their communities. In later stages, it funds programs to implement those plans to keep agriculture strong and farmland in production.
Section 324 and 324-a of the Agriculture and Markets Law specifies that both municipal and county plans must include the location of any land or areas proposed to be protected; an analysis of the value (economic and open space) of lands to be protected, including the development pressure and consequences of conversion; and a description of activities, programs, and strategies intended to be used by the local government to promote continued agricultural use. Under Article 25-AAA of the Agriculture and Markets Law, the Commissioner is authorized to administer three grant programs focused on farmland protection:
(1) The Farmland Protection Planning Grants Program (FPPG), assists county and municipal (i.e., town, village, city) governments in developing agricultural and farmland protection plans which recommend policies and projects aimed at maintaining the economic viability of the State's agricultural industry and its supporting land base.
(2) The Farmland Implementation Grants Program (FPIG), assists counties, municipalities, soil and water conservation districts, and not-for-profit conservation organizations (“land trusts”) in implementing farmland protection plans, including those created through FPPG.
(3) The Land Trust Grants Program awards state assistance to land trusts for activities that will assist counties and municipalities with their agricultural and farmland protection efforts.
The Department has approved plans in over 40 counties since FPPG awards began in 1994. Since the grants program became available to municipalities in 2007, over 70 towns have received FPPG awards to develop town farmland protection plans. The grants allow local governments to conduct agricultural inventories, determine ways to change zoning regulations to be more farm friendly, and create recommendations for agricultural economic development projects. The map to the right shows the towns and counties which have completed Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plans as well as those that have been awarded grants and are currently developing their plans.
Since the inception of the program, FPIG has disbursed over $145 million, protecting over 61,000 acres of viable agricultural land on over 240 farms across the State of New York.
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