The budget provides $13 million, an increase of $1 million, for the state’s Farmland Protection Program, which funds the purchase of agricultural conservation easements on farmland and the development of municipal and county agriculture and farmland protection plans. The Farmland Protection Program is part of the Environmental Protection Fund, which received $153 million, an increase of $19 million.
New York’s 30,000 farms sell almost $5 billion in farm products annually and are the critical link in a chain of food processors and agriculturally related businesses that annually generate $46.7 billion in economic impact. “Farmland forms the foundation of New York’s farm and food economy yet over the last 25 years the state has lost half a million acres of farmland to real estate development,” said David Haight, New York State Director for American Farmland Trust. The Environmental Protection Fund is currently the sole source of funding for the state’s Farmland Protection Program, which provides funding to protect farms from poorly planned development. The Farmland Protection Program also enables farmers to invest funds they receive in exchange for placing a conservation easement on their farm in diversifying and expanding their farm businesses. Many of these farmers build new infrastructure, introduce new crops, purchase equipment or livestock, and perhaps most importantly, transfer family farms to the next generation of farmers.”
Among other No Farms No Food Rally budget priorities, the approved budget contains language that enables state agencies to purchase up to $200,000 of food grown in New York without going through a formal competitive bid process. This is a big increase over the previous cap of $15,000. Direct funding to the Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program, which buys food from New York farmers to provide to people in need, was restored at $28 million, a cut from the $29.7 million in last year’s budget. However lawmakers did approve a separate allocation of $2 million from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families block grant program to food banks.
Many thanks to Governor Cuomo and State Legislators for including these important priorities in this year’s State Budget as well as to all the No Farms No Food Rally participants who came to Albany to support funding for farmland conservation and strong local food systems. We must now work together to encourage the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets to solicit new applications for farmland conservation funding in Fiscal Year 2013-2014 so that we can keep protecting farmland for the next generation of farmers in New York.
In the last fiscal year New York’s Farmland Protection Program aided in permanently protecting 9 farms. The farms are located across the state from Long Island, to the Hudson Valley, the Finger Lakes Region and Western New York and represent a full range of agriculture including nursery, dairy, and crop farming. One farm, Sunset Ridge Dairy, located in Dutchess County, is operated by Kevin Smith. “We wanted to plan for our retirement and pass the farm on, as it is, to our daughters. Protecting our farm allows us to provide agricultural land for future generations.”
New York Farms Protected with Funding from Farmland Protection Program
Bos Haven Farm, Dutchess County (dairy)
Delalio Sod Farm, Suffolk County (sod)
Domino Farm, Ulster County (dairy)
Gulliver Farm, Cayuga County (feed crop)
Lew-Lin Farm, Tompkins County (dairy)
Reed Farm, Madison County (dairy)
Sunset Ridge Farm, Dutchess County (dairy)
Totino Nursery, Suffolk County (nursery)
Zaweksi Farm, Suffolk County (sod)