The Local Economies Project of the New World Foundation has awarded American Farmland Trust (AFT) a grant of $200,000 to enable the Farm to Institution New York State (FINYS) partnership to create new economic opportunities for New York’s farmers while improving the health of New Yorkers by increasing the amount of locally grown food served in institutions. “The Local Economies Project is proud to continue its support of American Farmland Trust’s FINYS,” said Bob Dandrew of the Local Economies Project. “Getting local food into institutional settings is critical to our health and to the viability of our local farming economy. FINYS is doing an outstanding job of bringing farmers and processors, institutional buyers, and the people they service together to create strong market channels we need for a more resilient food system in New York State.” Read more…
Thomas Ferraro, founder of Foodlink, one of the nation’s first food banks, died on February 11. Tom served on the Farm to Institution New York State (FINYS) Leadership Team. “Tom was a visionary,” said Glenda Neff, FINYS Coordinator for American Farmland Trust. He believed that Foodlink’s assets – its warehouse, kitchens, trucks, and most of all its passionate talented employees, could be used for economic development that would produce jobs, train unemployed in new skills, and create access to healthy local food. “Foodlink as a “local food hub” would, could and has done that.” Those wishing to make a donation in memory of Tom are asked to consider contributing funds to the Foodlink Foundation in his name. Donations can be sent to Foodlink Foundation, PO Box 60766, Rochester, NY 14606.
American Farmland Trust presented testimony at a Joint Legislative Hearing on New York’s 2014-2105 Executive Budget Proposal held on January 29th in Albany, urging the State Legislature to increase funding for the Farmland Protection Program and the Environmental Protection Fund, beyond the modest increases proposed by Governor Cuomo in his Executive Budget, released January 21.
The Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) is a dedicated source of funding for investment in critical environmental programs that protect drinking water, working farms, state parks, and wildlife habitat. The state’s Farmland Protection Program, which provides money to aid communities in supporting agriculture and conserving farmland as well as for the purchase of development rights on farmland, is funded through the EPF. In his Executive Budget, Governor Cuomo proposed increasing the EPF from $153 million to $157 million and the Farmland Protection Program from $13 million to $14 million in State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2014-2015. Read More
In his State of the State Address last week Governor Cuomo announced plans to spur economic growth in New York by reducing property taxes. “The main tax burden in New York State is the property tax. That is the tax you hear New Yorkers complaining about from one end of the state to the other,” said Cuomo. “As a matter of fact New Yorkers don’t just pay a high property tax; they pay the highest property tax in the nation.”
Keeping farmland in agriculture is a vital tool for controlling property taxes. American Farmland Trust’s Cost of Community Services Studies have shown that while developed land provides more property tax revenue, the cost of public services such development requires far exceeds the tax revenue generated. Public investment in farmland conservation will be repaid as protected farms remain in agricultural production, helping maintain lower property taxes while contributing to economic growth.
Farmland Advisors, a training program on farm transfer and farmland access options led by American Farmland Trust and Land For Good, convened 70 agricultural professionals from across New England and New York in Albany on November 18th and 19th. “Getting ‘face time’ amongst colleagues and future collaborators is really what this work is all about—and the conference reinforced my personal understanding of how to constructively engage with and support diverse constituencies,” said Kate Sann, preservation associate at Westchester Land Trust.
The conference was the centerpiece of a two-year program funded by the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Professional Development Program with additional support from the Farm Credit Northeast AgEnhancement Program and New York State Agricultural Mediation Program. Participants include land trust staff, agricultural service providers and other professionals working with farmers and farmland owners. Participants received training in building relationships with landowners, farmland leases, conservation easements and affordability mechanisms, family and personal issues in estate planning, and tax and financial considerations in farm transfers. Elisabeth Moore, director of conservation at Connecticut Farmland Trust said, “Farmland Advisors has educated me about programs and resources around farm transfer and farmland access that I did not know existed.”