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State Ag. Dept. offers $500,000 to help land trusts buy farmland to protect from development

Empire Farm in Copake. The state Department of Agriculture and Markets announced $500,000 is available for land trusts to protect farmland across the state through easements.
August 12, 2018 11:30 pm

ALBANY — The state Department of Agriculture and Markets made $500,000 available to eligible land trusts to protect farmland across New York.

Funds are being provided through the Land Trust Grants Program, which is starting its second round. In this round, grants of up to $50,000 will be awarded.

The state announced in April the awards through round one of the Land Trust Grants Program, which distributed $250,000 to seven land trusts across the state.

“New York has provided unprecedented support for farmland preservation over the last several years, from grant funding to assist with the purchase of development rights to support for the development of local land inventories,” according to a statement from state Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball. “This funding will cover the cost of an appraisal for a potential conservation easement project, helping to conserve New York’s valuable farmland for future generations.”

In 2018 to date, nearly $75 million has been dedicated by the state to farmland preservation efforts in New York, according to a statement from the state Department of Agriculture and Markets.

The governor in July announced $30 million available through the state’s Farmland Protection Implementation Grants Program meant to support conservation easement projects on dairy farms.

The state also made available in May a separate $38 million in the Farmland Protection Implementation Grants Program. Deadline for applications is Aug. 31.

The governor also signed legislation July 31 that will provide funding for land trusts to purchase easements on farmland with agreements that limit development of the land.

The agreements, which effectively limit development on farmland easements to farming operations, are called pre-emptive purchasing rights and cost land trusts extra money and the new law will provide the funds to pay the extra cost.

The bill, which passed in June, was sponsored by Assemblywoman Didi Barrett, D-106.

“Ensuring working farms pass from one generation to the next is one of the best ways to maintain our state’s proud agricultural heritage,” according to a statement from Barrett. “With the enactment of the Working Farm Protection Act, state assistance payments toward this goal are now a permanent option and have strengthened our existing farmland protection laws.”