ALBANY — American Farmland Trust applauds Governor Andrew Cuomo’s announcement that the State of New York will invest $30 million to strengthen New York’s farm economy by protecting farmland associated with dairy farms:
“Dairy farms are the foundation of New York’s farm economy – but continued low milk prices have deeply hurt our state’s dairy farmers,” said David Haight, New York State Director for American Farmland Trust. “We applaud Governor Cuomo for continuing to invest in the future of farming in New York by helping dairy farmers permanently protect their land. Furthermore, 30% of New York State farmers are age 65 or older, and they own or operate nearly 2 million acres. These dollars will help dairy farm families, especially those nearing retirement, make greatly needed investments in the long-term financial viability of their farm, and will ensure a stronger future for growing food in New York for generations to come.”
Haight added, “This $30 million targeting dairy farms combined with the $38 million announced in May for all farmers in New York represents a major investment by the State of New York in keeping farmland available for growing food in New York. This is not only good for the farm economy, but these dollars are an important part of the State of New York’s efforts to combat climate change. Our research has shown that protecting farmland and steering new real estate development into existing downtowns and cities can be an important strategy for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, a critical part of reaching New York’s climate change mitigation goals.”
In June 2017, American Farmland Trust released a report, Greener Fields: Combating Climate Change by Keeping Land in Farming in New York, that found that on average, an acre of farmland produces 66 times fewer GHG emissions than an acre of developed land in New York.
Similar studies in California concluded that permanent farmland protection, more than any other management activity, would have the single greatest impact in reducing GHG emissions on farmland. When permanent farmland protection is used to implement strategic plans that steer new development into existing downtowns and cities, it can effectively reduce vehicle miles traveled, one of the greatest contributors to GHG emissions in New York.
In New York, roughly 5,800 acres of farmland have been converted to real estate development annually – the equivalent of nearly 600 typical farms. Continuing this trend could add another nine million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2e) emissions annually to the atmosphere. The Greener Fields report found that if the rate of farmland conversion was reduced in New York by 80 percent by 2050, it could decrease NYS GHG emissions equivalent to taking one million cars off the road.
American Farmland Trust applauds Governor Cuomo’s investment in our dairy farms and in combating climate change by keeping land available for farming and growing food.
About American Farmland Trust: American Farmland Trust is the only national conservation organization dedicated to protecting farmland, promoting sound farming practices and keeping farmers on the land. AFT’s innovative work led to a national a movement to save the land that sustains us. No Farms, No Food. Since 1980, American Farmland Trust has helped to permanently protect more than six million acres of farmland and ranchland. Learn more at www.farmland.org.
–American Farmland Trust