New York State has been losing farmland at an alarming rate – the equivalent of one farm every 3 ½ days. The state has lost almost half a million acres of farmland to subdivisions, strip malls and scattered development in the last 25 years, which is threatening food security and local economies.
From farm fields, town halls and county seats across New York, to the state capital in Albany, we’re working to advance policies and secure funding to support agriculture and protect farmland. American Farmland Trust pioneered the use of conservation easements to protect agriculture and has helped the state of New York and numerous town and county governments launch farmland protection programs and develop agriculture and farmland protection plans that save farmland for future generations.
New York State is home to the largest metropolitan area in the nation. At the same time, farmers working land from the sweet corn fields of Long Island to the dairy farms outside Buffalo have made the state one of the nation’s top agricultural producers. Yet many New Yorkers are unaware that farmland throughout the state is lost everyday to poorly planned development.
While concern about food security, access to local foods, and public health issues such as childhood obesity is on the rise, farmland loss in New York continues. New York’s remaining farmland can only produce enough food to feed 6 million of the state’s 19 million residents. That’s just 30 percent of the population.
We are leading efforts in New York at the state and local level to draw attention to the loss of farmland and its implication for the state’s food security while highlighting the economic opportunity represented by a food system that more closely connects New York farmers and consumers.
Protecting the Environment
New York’s farms play an important role in providing clean drinking water to urban populations. Well-managed farmland acts as a filter for drinking water supplies, protecting streams and rivers from the pollution caused by development. We work with national, state and local partners to protect the state’s farmland from poorly planned development and to help farmers keep New York’s drinking water clean.
We have also worked with our partner organizations to protect farmland and help farmers adopt environmentally sound farming practices in the New York City watershed, which includes the Catskills, and provides clean, untreated drinking water to more than 9 million people. In central New York, we have worked with farmers and communities that receive water from the Skaneateles Lake and Owasco Lake watersheds to develop and advance programs that pro-actively support water quality.
Combining the protection of farmland with environmentally sound agricultural practices keeps New York’s drinking water supplies clean and a dependable resource for future generations.