Agricultural Stewardship AssociationAgricultural Stewardship Association

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Conservation Stories

Since its inception in 1990, ASA has helped landowners protect a variety of working lands throughout Washington and Rensselaer counties.
Swezey View Farm

Conserving Land and a Legacy While Securing the Future

From the comfort of his front porch, Mike Swezey can cast his gaze across a large swath of some of the fields that make up the 345-acre Swezey View Farm. From this vantage, Swezey can readily recall significant moments from the farm’s past—like when they consolidated two sizable herds of dairy cows into one barn. Thanks to this project with ASA, he has a pretty good fix on what the future will look like. “Most importantly,” declares Swezey, “this land will be farmland. Forever.”

Swezey, who first stepped onto the property in 1975 as a hired hand while still a junior in high school, says all he ever wanted to be was a farmer and “this land is what made that possible.”

In 1979, Swezey purchased the farm outright and launched a successful and wholly self-sufficient dairy operation. “First it was just me and some help,” he says, “Then, my eldest son, David, and I oversaw the herd which numbered around 170 at its largest, plus the growing of all the feed we needed to keep them healthy and producing.”

Then, in 2013, after a major back surgery, the elder Swezey sold half the farm to his son.
David largely ran the operation on his own for six years before the dairy crisis took its
toll. After selling off the herd in 2019, David transitioned the bulk of the property to hay
production for retail sale, began leasing 50 acres to a local farm for support corn, all while
continuing to manage his own growing herd of 45-or-so beef cattle.

While Mike had come to terms with the fact that things are bound to change in a span
of 40+ years, he was clear on what he didn’t want to ever change. “You can’t grow farmland,”
he says, “I’m not interested in solar panels, and I don’t want houses popping up on the land I
tended for so much of my life. I had heard about other local farms conserving their land
through ASA, so we reached out. While it took a while to get all the pieces into place, the
process was easy.”

In addition to ensuring the farm will always remain in agricultural use, conserving the land
helped secure Mike’s retirement and pay off David’s mortgage, which is providing them
both with a peace of mind rarely found in farming. “Who knows,” says Mike, “Maybe
one day I’ll sit on this porch and watch one of my grandchildren work the fields. Thanks to
ASA, that’s a real possibility now.”

"Most importantly, this land will be farmland. Forever.”
                                                                                   — Mike Swezey


Funding for this project was provided by the New York State Environmental Protection Fund through the Dairy Transitions Farmland Protection Initiative administered by the Department of Agriculture and Markets.

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