Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a record-breaking $35 million has been awarded to 40 farms across 19 counties to protect 13,000 acres of agricultural land throughout New York State. The grants mark a historic level of funding awarded in a single round of the state's Farmland Protection Implementation Grant program.
"New York's farms are key economic drivers for communities across the State, and these investments will help support and sustain them for generations to come," Governor Cuomo said."With record funding that will preserve 13,000 acres of farmland, we are helping New York's agricultural industry continue to grow and produce the high quality goods that consumers have come to expect from the Empire State."
"Protecting our farmland is vital to ensuring the continued growth of New York's agricultural industry," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "Farmers across the state provide world-class products to consumers in New York and beyond. We're providing record funding to protect and support agriculture, expanding opportunities and ensuring the continued success of the industry."
The Farmland Protection Implementation Grant program provides local governments, Soil and Water Conservation Districts and land trusts with grants to offset costs of conservation easements to protect viable agricultural land from being converted to non-agricultural use.
For the first time ever, the awarded funds allow for the use of preemptive purchase rights, which encourage agricultural land to remain in active production and require that it be sold to other farmers at its agricultural value.
New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "I want to thank Governor Cuomo for supporting our farmers with a record amount of funding for farmland protection projects across the state. We have worked hard to make these programs more robust, more efficient and more reliable. These grants support our agricultural industry, while ensuring that the natural landscapes of our farms remain open for future generations to enjoy."
The program is funded through New York State's Environmental Protection Fund in the State Budget. More than $283 million has been awarded to farmland projection projects since 1996 and nearly 289 projects have protected more than 73,000 acres of farmland in New York State.
ASA's awards include:
- Rensselaer County: four projects totaling 1,527 acres
- Washington County: four projects totaling 1,284 acres
In addition, earlier this year, the Department announced $5.5 million is also available through two grant opportunities to help keep farmland in agricultural production. The funding will help applicants cover costs associated with obtaining and administering an Option Agreement Project, for which $5 million is available, and also cover transaction costs associated with donated agricultural conservation easements, for which the remaining $500,000 is available.