A total of $5.5 million is available through two new grant opportunities to advance farmland protection efforts throughout the state.
Both programs will help preserve viable farmland in agricultural production, protecting it from development and conversion to non-farm uses.
The funding will also help farmers identify available land and expedite the process of permanently protecting agricultural properties through perpetual conservation easements.
These new initiatives are the result of the Governor's pledge in his 2017 State of the State address to improve regional collaboration to enhance farmland conservation efforts statewide.
"Agriculture remains a critically important part of New York's economy, and the protection and preservation of farmlands is crucial to the continued growth and future success of this industry," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. "These new grant programs will help maintain the economic viability of our farms, preserve our agricultural landscape and help ensure the strength of our food supply for current and future generations of New Yorkers."
Expanding New York's Farmland Protection Implementation Program
For the first time, the state's farmland protection program has been expanded to allow eligible applicants to implement an Option to Purchase a Perpetual Conservation Easement, also called an Option Agreement Project.
This Option Agreement Project will lay the groundwork for landowners interested in permanently protecting their farms by pre-determining the value of development rights, which expedites the process when a formal application is submitted for the purchase of a perpetual conservation easement.
This new initiative provides a total of $5 million to eligible applicants, including municipalities, counties, soil and water conservation districts and land trusts. Grants of up to $500,000 will be awarded to cover costs associated with obtaining and administering an Option Agreement Project.
All applicants must submit their proposals through Grants Gateway at https://grantsgateway.ny.gov/IntelliGrants_NYSGG/module/nysgg/goportal.aspx?NavItem1=3
Applications can be submitted starting today and will be accepted until the available funding is fully committed.
More information about the application process is available on the Department of Agriculture and Markets website at www.agriculture.ny.gov/RFPS.html. For questions, contact David Behm at David.Behm@agriculture.ny.gov
This new funding opportunity builds on the State's Farmland Protection Implementation Grant program, which helps cover the costs of buying a perpetual conservation easement, ensuring that valuable farmland remains in agricultural production forever.
The state has revitalized this program and committed historic funding to safeguard one of its most vital resources.
Since 2011, the state has invested more than $62 million in 82 conservation projects statewide. The 2017-18 State Budget includes another $20 million for the program and the governor proposed another $20 million for the program this week in his 2018-19 budget proposal.
Advancing Regional Farmland Conservation Strategies
The new $500,000 Land Trust Grants program was created to advance farmland protection strategies identified by counties and municipalities throughout the state. The program provides competitive grants of up to $50,000 to land trusts.
The funding will help develop local inventories of viable farmland and inform landowners of programs and opportunities to protect their properties from conversion to non-farm uses. It will also help expand outreach efforts to better connect willing landowners with farmers interested in leasing or buying their properties for agricultural production.
Applicants must apply through https://grantsgateway.ny.gov/IntelliGrants_NYSGG/module/nysgg/goportal.aspx?NavItem1=3 starting today through March 5, 2018.
More details on eligibility and the application process are available at https://www.agriculture.ny.gov/RFPS.html or buy emailing Jeffrey Kehoe at email@example.com
Improving Outreach to Enhance Farmland Protection
"Through Governor Cuomo's innovative strategies, we can eliminate some of the major barriers facing current and future farmers," said Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball. "Access to land is one of the biggest hurdles. Without land, they can't farm and without farming, we have no food.
"I am excited to implement these new opportunities to encourage conservation efforts and keep agricultural operations up and running for generations to come," Ball said..