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NYS: Nearly $50 million available for farmland protection projects


Fri, Jun 2nd 2023 01:25 pm

$4.5 million allocated to each region across state

√ Eligibility criteria expanded to include field crops and livestock industries and land access goals

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced nearly $50 million in funding is available through the Farmland Protection Implementation Grants Program.

Her team said, “The program, which celebrated a significant milestone of reaching 100,000 acres of farmland protected across the state in April, helps to support perpetual agricultural conservation easement projects to keep agricultural land in production and ensure the long-term viability of New York's farming operations.”

Hochul said, "New York's Farmland Protection Program is a critical tool in our efforts to protect the state's agricultural heritage and ensure a sustainable food supply for future generations. With over 100,000 acres of farmland already protected through this program, and with this new nearly $50 million in funding, we will continue to work with farmers to conserve land and keep farms in production – supporting our economy, our environment and the long-term stability of New York's agricultural industry."

A press release stated, “For round 19 of the state's farmland protection program, $47.5 million will be awarded to projects that support the state's top priorities, including food security, climate resiliency, and source water protection. In addition, the eligibility criteria for the program has been expanded again, now including three new categories: field crops, livestock or livestock products, and access to farmland. Access to farmland is specifically intended to help address ongoing challenges facing new and beginning farmers, as well as retiring farmers in this area. Round 18 was the first time the eligibility criteria for the farmland protection program had been expanded, including the agroforestry, equine and wine sectors to reflect New York's diverse agricultural industry.”

As part of the funding awarded, $4.5 million will be allocated to each of the state's 10 economic development regions. Round 19 also continues the one-time incentive payment of 10% of the value of the agricultural conservation easement being required for projects that meet climate resilience or source water protection goals.

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "New York is fortunate to have a wealth of healthy, fertile, nutrient-rich farmland. The Farmland Protection Implementation Grants program helps us not only ensures that this invaluable natural resource remains available as productive farmland, but also foster the next generation of agricultural leaders. The funding from this program will provide farmers with the support they need to take on innovative projects, continue their operations, protect their way of life, and continue putting food on the table for New Yorkers."

New York State Sen. Michelle Hinchey said, "The State's Farmland Protection Implementation Grants Program has made it possible for New York to preserve thousands of acres of at-risk farmland to ensure that farmers today and across future generations have the land they need to grow our food, safeguard our regional food supply and contribute to our fight against the climate crisis.”

Assembly member Donna Lupardo said, "I am very proud of NY's long-standing commitment to the Farmland Protection Implementation Grants program (FPIG), allocating $21 million in this year's state budget alone. With over 100,000 acres of farmland protected, the program continues to expand, and will now include field crops, livestock and access to farmland. The FPIG keeps valuable farmland in production, while focusing on water quality, food security and climate resilience; all nation-leading initiatives."

Eligible applicants can apply for the farmland protection program through the Grants Gateway. Additional information on the request for applications can be found here. Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis until funds are exhausted.

The press release added, “During Earth Week this year, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced New York state has reached a significant milestone in protecting valuable and at-risk farmland through its Farmland Protection Implementation Grant program. As of April 2023, the Farmland Protection Implementation Grants program has helped preserve more than 107,000 acres of New York farmland through completed conservation easement projects totaling more than $250 million on nearly 370 farms. This milestone builds on legislation the governor signed last year that set the goal to support and contribute to national efforts to conserve at least 30% of U.S. land and water by 2030.

“Approximately 20% of the state's land area, or nearly 7 million acres, is farmland. The department's farmland protection 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 development rights on individual farms through the FPIG program, the Dairy Transitions Farmland Protection Initiative, or the Farm Operations in Transition Farmland Protection Initiative. However, the program also awards funding to land trusts and land conservancies 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.

“The governor's executive budget proposes to continue to fund the farmland protection program at $21 million, through the Environmental Protection Fund.”

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