State Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball today announced $1.1 million in funding is available through two programs to advance farmland protection actions across New York State. The Land Trust Grants program supports outreach efforts to better connect farmers to landowners and the Farmland Protection Planning Grants program encourages agricultural planning at the local level.
Commissioner Ball said, “We’re pleased to announce the opportunity for our land trusts and for our municipalities and counties to partner with us as we work to protect New York’s valuable farmland for future generations. New York State has provided unprecedented support for farmland preservation over the last several years and these funding programs will help us build on those efforts.”
The Land Trust Grants program
To further farmland protection actions across New York State, $500,000 is available to eligible land trusts to advance farmland protection strategies identified by counties and municipalities throughout the state. The funding is being provided through the third round of the Land Trust Grants program, which was first announced in the Governor’s 2017 State of the State address.
The Land Trust Grants program provides competitive grants of up to $50,000 to land trusts to help develop local inventories of viable farmland and inform landowners of 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 may apply through Grants Gateway until February 21, 2020 at 4 p.m. More details on eligibility and the application process are available at https://www.agriculture.ny.gov/RFPS.html. For questions, contact Jeff Kehoe at [email protected].
Farmland Protection Planning Efforts
The Department is also making available $600,000 to municipalities and counties who submit proposals for an Agriculture and Farmland Protection Plan. Counties and municipalities can apply for funding to create or update local planning documents, including, but not limited to, the agricultural sections of comprehensive plans, land use regulations, and zoning ordinances.
Applications will be accepted through the Grants Gateway on a rolling basis until funds are exhausted.
New York State has one of the most robust farmland protection programs in the country. 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 2019, the State’s Farmland Protection Implementation Grant Program (FPIG) reached a significant milestone: preserving more than 75,000 acres of New York farmland through completed conservation easement projects on nearly 300 farms. Since Governor Cuomo took office, the State has committed historic funding - $83 million - to farmland preservation.
The State also launched the Farmland Protection Dairy Transitions Program, which helps dairy farms diversify their operations or transition their farms to the next generation, while ensuring the land forever remains reserved for agricultural purposes. Since early 2018, New York State has awarded an additional $30.7 million to dairy farms, protecting 15,102 acres. In September 2019, the Department launched a second round of the program for $30 million.
In addition, the Department has developed several other farmland protection and farmland protection planning programs to help applicants cover costs associated with obtaining and administering an Option Agreement Project, and to cover transaction costs associated with donated agricultural conservation easements.