Each of the state’s 10 areas to get $4.5M for farmland protection

— Enterprise file photo

Indian Ladder Farms in New Scotland was protected by a conservation easement in 2003.

Nearly $50 million is now available through the Farmland Protection Implementation Grants Program. Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis until funds are exhausted.

The state program, which celebrated a milestone of reaching 100,000 acres of farmland protected across New York in April, helps to support perpetual agricultural conservation easement projects to keep agricultural land in production and ensure the long-term viability of New York’s farming operations.

“New York’s Farmland Protection Program is a critical tool in our efforts to protect the state’s agricultural heritage and ensure a sustainable food supply for future generations,” said Governor Kathy Hochul in a release announcing the latest round of funds.

About 20 percent of the state’s land area, or nearly 7 million acres, is farmland.

The most frequently funded activity is the purchase of development rights on individual farms through the FPIG program, the Dairy Transitions Farmland Protection Initiative, or the Farm Operations in Transition Farmland Protection Initiative.

However, the program also awards funding to land trusts and land conservancies to enable other implementation activities, such as amendments to local laws affecting agriculture, option agreements, and covering the transaction costs of donated agricultural conservation easements.

For Round 19 of the State’s Farmland Protection program, $47.5 million will be awarded to projects that support the state’s top priorities, including food security, climate resiliency, and source water protection.

In addition, the eligibility criteria for the program has been expanded again, now including three new categories: field crops, livestock or livestock products, and access to farmland. Access to farmland is specifically intended to help address ongoing challenges facing new and beginning farmers as well as retiring farmers.

Round 18 was the first time the eligibility criteria for the Farmland Protection program had been expanded, including the agroforestry, equine, and wine sectors to reflect New York's diverse agricultural industry.

As part of the funding awarded, $4.5 million will be allocated to each of the state’s 10 economic development regions. Round 19 also continues the one-time incentive payment of 10 percent of the value of the agricultural conservation easement being required for projects that meet climate resilience or source water protection goals.

Eligible applicants may apply for the Farmland Protection program through the Grants Gateway. Additional information on the request for applications may be found here

— Melissa Hale-Spencer

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