Wednesday, July 6, 2016

New York State Commemorates 20 Years of Farmland Protection

On June 28, state Sen. Patty Ritchie and Assemblyman William Magee announced the recent passage of a Joint Resolution of the New York State Senate and Assembly commemorating the 20th Anniversary of New York State’s Farmland Protection Program. 

Over the last two decades the state’s Farmland Protection Implementation Grants program has provided $140,306,211 to permanently protect 59,150 acres of farmland on 222 farms in 29 counties across New York. 
“When it comes to our state’s agriculture industry, available farmland that’s ready for cultivation is one of our most important resources,” said Ritchie, who is chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

“New York state’s Farmland Protection Program has played a key role in safeguarding our farmland, helping to ensure our hardworking farmers have access to undeveloped property, which they can use grow the fresh foods we rely on," she said. "I’ve been proud to advocate for farmland protection, and am looking forward to continuing our efforts to make sure our farmers have the land they need to feed the people of our state, and beyond.”
“As the average age of our farmers increases, so does our obligation to protect the farmland of the state by preserving it for agricultural uses,” said Magee, chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee. “Over the past 20 years, the Farmland Protection Program has been successful in establishing the permanent protection of over 59,000 acres of farmland."

"Keeping farmland in production benefits every New Yorker with access to fresh, local farm products, providing sustenance for generations to come, and helping to preserve our way of life in Upstate New York,” he said.
Farmland lies at the foundation of New York’s $39 billion farm and food economy and is a key resource in producing fresh, healthy foods grown from local farms. Yet, New York state has lost nearly 500,000 acres of farmland to real estate development since the 1980s – paving over an area equivalent to about 5,000 farms or 3 farms a week for the past 30 years. New research from American Farmland Trust (AFT) has also shown that nearly 30 percent of New York’s farmers are over 65, suggesting that approximately 2 million acres of farmland will change hands in coming years. 
Since 1996, New York state has awarded farmland protection money for the purchase of permanent agricultural conservation easements on farmland. Such deed restrictions enable farms to remain in private ownership but ensures that the land will always be kept available for farming. Currently, funding for FPIG is allocated from the state’s Environmental Protection Fund.
In 2015-2016, $35 million was allocated to farmland protection in the state budget – the most in the state’s history and the fourth largest annual state funding for protecting farmland in America. In 2016-2017, a record appropriation of $300 million for the Environmental Protection Fund included $20 million in funds for the Farmland Protection Program, an increase of $5 million over the previous year.

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