Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced more than $18.6 million has been provided in support of conservation easement projects on 25 New York dairy farms. Dairy farmers continue to face challenges from prolonged low milk prices, increasing the threat of conversion of viable agricultural land to nonfarm development. Through the Farmland Protection Implementation Grant program, dairy farms can diversify their operations or transition their farms to the next generation at more affordable costs, while ensuring the land forever remains used for agricultural purposes. Since early 2018, New York State has awarded more than $30.7 million to dairy farms, protecting 15,102 acres. "Agriculture is a critical component of our upstate economy and our farms improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers," Governor Cuomo said. "They provide fresh and nutritious food and beverages to our communities and are home to some of New York's most scenic landscapes. This program will help ensure our farms continue their successful operations for future generations." "Protecting our farmland is vital to ensuring the continued growth of the state's agricultural industry," Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul said. "New York is among the largest producers of milk, yogurt, and cottage cheese in the country, providing to consumers in New York and beyond. With this funding for farmland protection, we are continuing our efforts to protect and support agriculture, expand opportunities, and build on the success of the industry." Protecting the agricultural land base of an operating dairy farm from conversion to nonfarm use is essential to the long-term viability and sustainability of New York's agricultural industry. New York's dairy industry is the largest sector of the State's agricultural industry and a critical component of its economy, accounting for approximately one-half of New York State's on-farm production, agricultural support services and value-added products. New York State is home to nearly 4,000 dairy farms with more than 620,000 cows, producing 14.9 billion pounds of milk. New York ranks fourth in the production of milk and is first in the nation in the production of other dairy products, such as yogurt and cottage cheese. The projects awarded will protect 10,253 acres of viable agricultural land comprised of prime soils:
• Agricultural Stewardship Association - $413,670 to protect 260 acres of the New Generation Farm.
• Agricultural Stewardship Association - $859,075 to protect 648 acres of the Burch Family Farm.
• Agricultural Stewardship Association - $200,142 to protect 71 acres of the Wagner Farm.
• Agricultural Stewardship Association - $517,737 to protect 357 acres of the Adams Acres Farm.
• Agricultural Stewardship Association - $369,261 to protect 309 acres of the Chapin Family Farm.
• Agricultural Stewardship Association - $821,841 to protect 439 acres of the Otter Creek Farm.
• Saratoga PLAN - $823,706 to protect 172 acres of the Drumm Farm.
• Saratoga PLAN - $1,010,164 to protect 175 acres of the Hanehan Family Farm. •
Agricultural Stewardship Association - $324,968 to protect 165 acres of the Liddleholme Farm.
• Agricultural Stewardship Association - $ 572,921 to protect 332 acres of the Hickory Hills Dairy.
Central New York
• New York Agricultural Land Trust - $500,194 to protect 200 acres of CBG Farms.
• New York Agricultural Land Trust - $339,281 to protect 164 acres of Fesko Farms.
• New York Agricultural Land Trust - $1,993,723 to protect 796 acres of Pastureland Farm.
• New York Agricultural Land Trust - $637,219 to protect 299 acres of Fesko Farms.
• Genesee Land Trust - $1,124,759 to protect 567 acres of Koeberle Farm.
• Finger Lakes Land Trust - $967,522 to protect 414 acres of Christiansen Farm.
• Genesee Valley Conservancy - $1,999,750 to protect 1,055 acres of Highgrove Farm.
• Genesee Valley Conservancy - $2 million to protect 1,384 acres of Roll-N-View Farm.
• Scenic Hudson Land Trust - $790,000 to protect 96 acres of Scholldorf Farm.
• Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust - $417,690 to protect 236 acres of Groeslon Farm.
• Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy - $960,971 to protect 823 acres of Creek Acres Farm.
• Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust - $880,678 to protect 721 acres of Huntley Farm.
• Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust - $468,878 to protect 323 acres of Northrup & Sons Farm.
• Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust - $301,184 to protect 156 acres of Nemeth Farm.
• Adirondack Land Trust - $116,200 to protect 91 acres of Moran Farm.
Following the success of Round 1 of this program, New York State is launching a second round of the Farmland Protection Implementation Grant program specifically for dairy. The state will accept applications on a rolling basis for farmland protection grants of up to $2 million from eligible entities, such as land trusts, municipalities, counties, and soil and water conservation districts. There is no application deadline. Conservation easement projects will be awarded to eligible dairy farms that are:
• Transitioning to the next ownership of a continuing dairy, but whose operation has been modified to ensure greater financial sustainability;
• Continuing dairy, but diversifying the overall farm operation; or
• Converting to a non-dairy farm operation.
All farmland protection project proposals must be submitted electronically through the New York State Grants Gateway. For more information regarding the Grants Gateway, please visit Grants Gateway. Additional information and the Request for Applications (RFA) can be found on the Department's website.
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "Dairy is the largest sector of New York State's agricultural economy and our dairy farmers have faced some daunting challenges in recent years with low milk prices and trade uncertainty. These funds help farmers adapt to changes in the marketplace and remain in business, while preserving the land and our farmers' way of life. I am also pleased that the program has been successful and that the Department can respond to the dairy community with a second round of $30 million for conservation easements."
New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher said, "Farmland preservation can be an important tool to preserve farm properties for the next generation of farmers. In the current farm economy, with international trade challenges and low milk prices, providing families with the ability to remain in farming and expand value-added production or crop diversification is critical for our industry."
New York Policy Manager for American Farmland Trust Samantha Levy said, "These investments in dairy farms are coming at a critical time. Not only will these projects strengthen the future for New York farms, they will ensure that this irreplaceable farmland will be permanently available to future generations for farming and growing food. Thank you to Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature for responding to this urgent need. We look forward to working with the Department of Agriculture and Markets, land trusts and other partners to make sure that projects are completed quickly so that critical funds go to participating farm families that urgently need them."
Senator Jen Metzger, Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said, "A robust farmland protection program is particularly important in areas like the Hudson Valley, where development pressures have greatly increased the value of land, making it unaffordable for many farmers. The Farmland Protection Grant program is critical to supporting the continued viability of New York's dairy farms by assisting with diversification and affordable succession, helping to keep farmland in the hands of farmers for generations to come."
Assembly member Donna Lupardo, Chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee, said, "Farmland protection is an essential part of New York's strategy to address agricultural sustainability. These grants will protect more than 10,000 acres of prime dairy farmland, allowing farms to diversify and attract new farmers. Any assistance we can provide to our struggling dairy farms is welcome news given the many challenges they are facing."
The Farmland Protection Program for dairy builds on New York State's continued land preservation efforts. In 2018, the State announced a record-breaking $35 million was awarded through the Farmland Protection Implementation Grant program to 40 farms across 19 counties to protect 13,000 acres of agricultural land throughout New York State.
In addition, the Department announced $5.5 million through two grant opportunities to help keep farmland in agricultural production. The funding is helping applicants cover costs associated with obtaining and administering an Option Agreement Project, and cover transaction costs associated with donated agricultural conservation easements. Since the Governor took office in 2011, the state has invested more than $83 million in 117 farmland protection projects statewide.