Gov. Kathy Hochul, during Climate Week, announced more than $6 million is being awarded to strengthen New York's agricultural industry through the Farmland Protection Implementation Grants program. The eight awarded projects will protect a total of 2,014 acres of farmland across the state, “helping to keep agricultural land in production, ensure the long-term viability of New York's farming operations, and protect the state’s potential for carbon sequestration on these agricultural lands furthering the ability for the state to meet its climate goals.”
Hochul said, "Protecting our state's farmlands is a critical component not only to protecting our environment, but also maintaining the economic viability of the state's agricultural industry for generations to come. This program gives farmers the support they need to conserve land while expanding market opportunities so they can continue to produce and sell some of the highest quality foods, beverages and products in the country that sustain our communities. I’m proud we have awarded funding to so many deserving farms, helping to protect their farmland for years to come while making progress on our state’s climate goals."
A press release stated, “This is the 19th round of the state's Farmland Protection program. Last year, for the first time ever, the program awarded funding to projects to support the state's top priorities – like food security, climate resiliency, and source water protection – as well as expanded eligibility criteria for the program to include the agroforestry, equine, and wine sectors. 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.”
The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets administers the Farmland Protection Implementation Grants program and its associated grant opportunities. Grant applications are accepted on a continuous basis, until all funds have been awarded.
Locally, the Western New York Land Conservancy received $119,220 to protect 54 acres with 89% productive soils on Tower Farm (specialty crops category)
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "Farmland is one of the most important natural resources we have. The Farmland Protection Program helps us to not only preserve our land and our rich soils, but also to help farmers to continue their operations, protect their way of life, and continue putting food on the table for New Yorkers and people worldwide. I congratulate all the awardees for participating in this program that is helping us to meet our climate goals and forever conserve our working landscapes for future generations of farmers."
New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher said, "New York farmland is an important resource that must be protected from encroaching development. Once it is lost, it seldom returns to production, which is a loss for our state's food supply. The open vistas and environmental benefits also contribute to the overall quality of life for all New Yorkers. New York appreciates Gov. Hochul's ongoing commitment to the farmland preservation program, which provides needed incentives that support a farm's long-term viability.”
American Farmland Trust New York Policy Manager Mikaela Perry said, “Farmland protection is a critical tool in our fight against climate change. Protected farms serve as the foundation for farmers to steward the land with climate-smart practices that can benefit all New Yorkers with fresh, local food, heathy soil, and clean water and air. AFT applauds these farmers, land trusts, and the state of New York for their commitment to farmland protection, and looks forward to continued partnership to keep land available for future generations.”
The press release added, “The Farmland Protection Implementation Grants 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. However, the program also awards funding 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.”