Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
 Agricultural Districts
Bob Somers 518-457-3738

Sound Agricultural Practices

The Agricultural Districts Law also authorizes the Commissioner to issue opinions, upon request, concerning the soundness of specific agricultural practices. If the Commissioner determines that a practice is sound, it shall not constitute a private nuisance. Division staff perform in-depth, on-site reviews of practices which are called into question. The information obtained, research conducted, and coordination with other state actors form the basis for the Commissioner's opinion. In order for a practice to be considered sound, it must be legal, not harmful, and necessary, and supported by expert guidance or opinion. Most of these cases involve extensive investigation and may take six to twelve months, or longer to complete depending on the complexity of the issue.

To request a sound agricultural practice review, a letter must be sent to the Department describing, in detail, the farm operation, the practices to be reviewed, and the nature of the nuisance complaint. All inquiries should be directed to Bob Somers at 518-457-3738 or at

Agriculture in Nature Opinions

Section 308(4) authorizes the Commissioner, in consultation with the Advisory Council on Agriculture, to issue non-binding, case-by-case opinions on whether particular land uses are agricultural in nature. These opinions are purely advisory and do not implicate an investigatory process on the part of the Department. When examining all agricultural practices, the Commissioner uses the Agriculture and Markets Law – Article 25AA to determine whether or not the practice under review is agricultural based on information provided by the farmer. To request an opinion, a letter must be submitted to the Commissioner describing the particular land use and any supporting information that may be helpful. Questions concerning such opinions should be directed to Bob Somers at 518-457-3738 or at