New York state's Farmland Protection Implementation Grant program has helped preserve more than 107,000 acres of state farmland through completed conservation easement projects totaling more than US$250M on nearly 370 farms, governor says

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ALBANY, New York , April 21, 2023 (press release) –

During Earth Week, Governor Kathy Hochul today 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 this month, the FPIG 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 percent of U.S. land and water by 2030.

"Supporting New York's farmers starts with protecting the farmland they use to feed communities across the state," Governor Hochul said. "Through the New York Farmland Protection Program, we are conserving land that will provide food security to New Yorkers today and bolster future generations of farmers tomorrow. My administration is committed to continuing to address the needs of New York farmers and ensuring the long-term sustainability of our agricultural industry."

The announcement was made today by State Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball , who was joined by agricultural partners and local officials at Mulligan Farm , a fourth-generation dairy farm in Avon , Livingston County , and the first farm to use the Farmland Protection program in Livingston County . The Department of Agriculture and Markets awarded Mulligan Farm $1.3 million in 2008 and $1.5 million in 2021 through the FPIG program, which resulted in seven conservation easements, protecting a total of 1,800 acres of land in Avon , Livingston County and Rush , Monroe County from future development. The conservation easements were completed with the assistance of Genesee Valley Conservancy . The Mulligan Farm was the first conservation easement Genesee Valley Conservancy completed and is also one of its most recent.

In Livingston , Monroe , and Wyoming Counties alone, 18,750 acres across 19 farms have been protected through the FPIG program and Genesee Valley Conservancy's partnership. An additional 11,000 acres of protected land is pending. So far, a total of $55 million in grants from the program have been invested or committed to in the area.

State Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard Ball said, "The success of Mulligan Farm and the partnership with the Genesee Valley Conservancy is just one of the many, many great stories we have to tell when it comes to our Farmland Protection program. Nearly 370 farms across the state are continuing to operate, to provide fresh, healthy food to our communities, and to contribute to our economy, thanks to the program's success. I'm proud of the work we have done, in partnership with our land trusts and land conservancies, to reach this significant milestone and are ready to tackle the next 100,000 acres."

Approximately 20 percent 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. 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.

In the most recent round of the State's Farmland Protection program, Round 18, announced by Governor Hochul , critical adjustments were made to the program's eligibility and focus. For the first time ever, projects were awarded that support the State's top priorities, including food security, climate resiliency, and source water protection. In addition, eligibility criteria for the program was expanded to include the agroforestry, equine, and wine sectors, reflecting New York's diverse agricultural industry. Previously, the State launched the Dairy Transitions Farmland Protection Initiative to provide dairy farms the opportunity to diversify their operations or transition their farm to the next generation at a more affordable cost while ensuring the land forever remains used for agricultural purposes. In addition, the State also subsequently launched the Farm Operations in Transition Farmland Protection Initiative to similarly provide other types of farm operations - those challenged by trade policies or the effects of climate change - the same opportunity to diversify or transition ownership to the next generation.

The Governor's Executive Budget proposes to continue to fund the Farmland Protection program at $21 million , through the Environmental Protection Fund .

State Senator Michele Hinchey said, "With the Climate Crisis changing the face of agriculture as we know it, it is paramount that New York continues to protect local farmland and ensure a stable food supply for our region. The Farmland Protection Implementation Grant Program is an excellent investment, and I am thrilled to see New York reach this significant milestone in protecting at-risk farmland. I thank Governor Hochul , Agriculture and Markets, and all of our local partners across New York State for prioritizing farmland preservation."

Assemblymember Donna Lupardo said, " New York's Farmland Protection Program keeps agricultural land in production and helps keep farmers on the land. This milestone of protecting over 100,000 acres highlights the value we place on NY's agricultural economy. This effort now supports other key goals such as food security, climate resiliency, and water protection, acknowledging the vital role farmers play in environmental stewardship."

Benjamin Gajewski , Executive Director, Genesee Valley Conservancy , said, "The State's Farmland Protection Implementation Grant program has made is possible to protect some of the best and most productive farmland in the Genesee Valley. Reaching 100,000 protected acres is a huge milestone for New York State , but there is much more to be done. There are a multitude of threats to our local soils; the farmland protection program is giving us a fighting chance to ensure our communities have access to the productive soils necessary to support local farming and food production today and into the future."

American Farmland Trust New York Policy Manager, Mikaela Perry said, " American Farmland Trust celebrates New York's milestone of protecting over 100,000 acres of New York's irreplaceable farmland, over 50 percent of which is nationally significant, as a tremendous win for our state's agricultural future and for everyone who enjoys local food and fiber, improved soil, air and water quality, and strong local economies. We thank Governor Hochul and the State Legislature , the Department of Agriculture and Markets , New York land trusts and the farmers who have made this commitment to preserve farmland for future generations."

New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher said, "Protection of farmland is critical in ensuring the continued success of farming and food security in New York State . Our state's farmland protection program is unparalleled in its mission and protecting 100,000 acres of farmland is truly an environmental milestone. I look forward to seeing another 100,000 acres protected in the future."

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