Advocacy & Public Policy

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Advocacy & Public Policy

We Need Your Help In Albany...

Anuszewski

The Governor has proposed disproportionate cuts to farmland protection funding at a time when farmers need it most. Help protect our farmland, write or call your representatives today!

The Governor’s proposed 2014-2015 budget reduces the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) by 35%, including a 55% reduction in Farmland Protection Program (FPP) funding. ASA’s farmland protection program depends upon this funding and a reduction will severely limit our ability to assist farmers with conservation at a time when many are turning to us for help.

New York State's Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) is a source of funding for capital projects that protect the environment and enhance communities. Capital projects are usually large projects that purchase land or construct facilities. Most projects that receive grants of EPF money combine it with other funding sources that require matching funds.

Created by the state legislature in 1993, the Environmental Protection Fund is financed primarily through a dedicated portion of real estate transfer taxes. Over the past 20 years, the EPF has provided more than $2.7 billion for a variety of environmental projects. As a trust fund created in state law, these resources must be kept separate from other state monies.

Governor Andrew Cuomo recognized the 20th anniversary of the Environmental Protection Fund in aGovernor's press releasestating "Smart EPF investments in communities across the state are protecting New York's air, land, water and natural resources, helping to expand recreation opportunities that attract tens of millions of visitors each year and promote economic development."

Each year, during the budget negotiations, the legislature and governor negotiate the level of funding that will go into the EPF and assign amounts to specific categories within three accounts:

  • Open Space
  • Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
  • Solid Waste
  • Department of Environmental Conservation
  • Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
  • Empire State Development Corporation
  • Department of Agriculture and Markets
  • Department of State

 

Each category has legislatively designated uses per Section 92-S of the State Finance Law, described in detail in Article 54 of State Environmental Conservation Law. Additionally, some purposes are authorized in other sections of state law (i.e.; the Farmland Protection Program), as well as spending authorizations included in year-to-year budget appropriations. Projects selected to receive resources are chosen based on a number of variable criteria, depending on the category.

Several New York State agencies administer the funds and award grants to eligible state-led projects, or to partnerships, either between state agencies and municipalities or between state agencies and nonprofit organizations:

We are asking ASA members and supporters to contact their legislators by March 12th and urge them to fund the FPP at $25 million.

 

Sample Letter:

(Copy and paste the following text into your e-mail or document and personalize it by letting your legislators know why protecting farmland is important to you.)

Dear ___,

I am writing to ask for your help. This year’s budget, as proposed by the Governor, would have a devastating impact on New York’s Farmland Protection Program (FPP) and family farms in our area.

Last year, the State took funds from the Farmland Protection Program to pay for budget shortfalls and promised a repayment plan that would not delay already funded projects. This year, with no repayment plan, the proposed budget reduces the fund by more than 55%, lowering it from $23 to $10.5 million. This will cause significant hardship to many farm families in our region and our state who want to protect their land.

Very little money from the Environmental Protection Fund (from the real estate transfer tax) goes to farmland protection already—we must use that fund to invest in our farmers and make sure we have land for future generations.

New York State needs to honor its commitment to farm families and those who are conserving their lands. These farms are important to our food security, our local economy, and our way of life. They are our heritage and our future and a big part of what makes New York a great state. It’s just not right to back away.

Farmers in your district are counting on you to make sure that New York State does the right thing and passes a budget that has at least $25 million in cash for farmland protection. There are over $80 million in approved farmland projects waiting to be completed—they cannot wait. These are family farmers who have made important decisions to conserve their land. We must invest in our family farms.

Thank you for your help and leadership.

If you'd rather call your representative, here are some speaking points to keep in mind:

  • In Washington and Rensselaer Counties, FPP is the main source of funding for farmland protection. Without it, farmland protection won’t happen.
  • We oppose the proposed cuts to the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) and the Farmland Protection Program (FPP). These cuts will have long-lasting consequences for farm families, rural communities and the environment.
  • New York State needs to take the long view approach to agriculture. Investments in protecting farmland provide capital that can strengthen the future of farm businesses and add to the state economy.
  • Action is needed today. With 7.17 million acres in production, New York can feed only 21% of its current population. Each year 26,000 acres of farmland are developed and the state is home to three of the top twenty most threatened farming regions in the country. Every acre we protect today helps guarantee a local source for food in the future.

Here's how to contact your elected officials:

Rensselaer County:

Senator Kathleen Marchione, Room 306, Legislative Office Building, Albany, NY 12247 phone: (518)-455-2381 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin, Room 533, Legislative Office Building, Albany, NY 12248 phone: (518)-455-5777 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Washington County:

Senator Elizabeth Little, Room 310, Legislative Office Building, Albany, NY 12247 phone: (518)-455-2811 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Assemblyman Tony Jordon, Room 725, Legislative Office Building Albany, NY 12248 phone: (518)-455-5404 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

To read more about this issue, visit American Farmland Trust's website.


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