ALBANY — Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that New York State has reached a significant milestone in protecting valuable and at-risk farmland through its Farmland Protection Implementation Grant (FPIG) program. As of June 2019, the FPIG program has helped preserve more than 75,000 acres of New York farmland through completed conservation easement projects on nearly 300 farms. Since Governor Cuomo took office, the State has not only reinvigorated the FPIG program, but has also committed historic funding – $83 million – to farmland preservation.
“New York’s agricultural industry is an integral part of our economy, so it is critical that we preserve our farmland and protect this valuable resource from overdevelopment,” Governor Cuomo said. “With the revival of this comprehensive farmland protection program, we are shielding 75,000 acres of farmland and ensuring farmers have the land they need to continue growing superior products.”
“Protecting our farmland is vital to ensuring the continued growth of New York’s agricultural industry,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “Our farmers provide world-class products to consumers in New York communities and beyond. We’re committed to protecting and supporting agriculture to expand opportunities and allow the industry to continue to flourish.”
The announcement comes as Brock Acres Farm, a sixth-generation grain farm in Canandaigua, celebrates its conservation easement preserving 700 acres of farmland. The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets awarded $1.86 million for the perpetual easement, which is the latest of nearly 90 easements supported by the Finger Lakes Land Trust. Agricultural partners joined State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball, representatives from the Finger Lakes Land Trust, and state and local officials at Brock Acres Farm to celebrate the achievements in farmland protection.
This most recent easement will bring the total protected farmland in the Town of Canandaigua to more than 2,000 acres, ensuring the land will be protected from future development and used only for agriculture.
Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard Ball said, “Land is one of our most precious resources and the foundation of our farming community. The State made a commitment to protecting farmland and Governor Cuomo not only reinvigorated the Farmland Protection program but also ensured it was stronger than ever before. Under the Governor’s leadership, New York dedicated historic levels of funding to farmland protection, streamlined the time from the award to the closing of an easement, and launched several additional funding programs for land trusts and municipalities to support the conservation of land.”
The total number of acres of farmland protected through completed conservation projects is 76,395. There are additional projects awarded that will close on their conservation easement in the months ahead. In addition, in December 2018, a record-breaking $35 million was awarded to 40 farms across 19 counties to protect an additional 13,000 acres of agricultural land throughout New York State. The grants mark a historic level of funding awarded in a single round of the State’s Farmland Protection Implementation Grant program. The next round of farmland protection grant opportunities will be announced in 2020.
Finger Lakes Land Trust Executive Director Andrew Zepp said, “I commend the Brocklebank family and local officials for their dedication to farming and their steadfast support of land preservation, which sets New York apart from other states and makes us a national leader when it comes to stewardship. Our agricultural landscapes contribute substantially to our economy and our way of life and we’re proud to be a part of preserving them. We thank Governor Cuomo, Commissioner Ball and our legislative and local leaders for helping the State reach this important milestone.”
Brock Acres Farm owner Scott Brocklebank said, “My son Travis and I are the fifth and sixth generation of Brocklebanks to farm this land. My father and grandfathers would be so pleased to know we have taken this step that has given us peace of mind that at least 701 acres will be forever preserved as farmland.”
American Farmland Trust New York Policy Manager Samantha Levy said, “This is an important milestone for the state leaders, land trusts and farm families that have made protecting 75,000 acres of farmland in New York possible. Farmland protection projects strengthen our farm economy, help to transfer farmland to a new generation of farmers, and can aid in combatting climate change—all while protecting irreplaceable productive farmland forever. We must continue to work together to achieve more in the years to come!”
New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher said, “Farmland protection is a valuable investment for both farms and the State. It allows farm families to secure funding to be able to grow their business while keeping agricultural land in production for the next generation. This is especially important in areas where there are development pressures. New York Farm Bureau has been a longtime supporter of the program and we congratulate New York State on reaching this 75,000-acre milestone.”
Cornell Cooperative Extension Director Chris Watkins said, “The College is optimistic about the future of farming in New York State, in large part because successful farming begins with healthy soil which we have in abundance. The farmland protection program is an excellent investment in for our future farmers, and I commend Governor Cuomo, Commissioner Ball, and our state legislative leaders and local land trusts for this partnership approach to stewarding working agricultural landscapes.”
Land Trust Alliance President and CEO Andrew Bowman said, “Land trusts across New York are proud to have played a role in helping the state conserve 75,000 acres of farmland for future generations. As I salute today Finger Lakes Land Trust and the owners of Brock Acres Farm, I also thank Governor Cuomo and Agriculture Commissioner Ball for prioritizing the investments and partnerships that continue to protect our lands and our ways of life.”
Senator Jen Metzger, Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said, “Right now, a full third of our farmers are 65 or older, and the succession issue is a major challenge that we face in New York. For the benefit of our economy, food security, and environment, we need and want our farmland in production for generations to come. The forward-thinking Farmland Protection program, which has already achieved so much through preservation and easement projects, will continue to ensure that farmland remain in the hands of farmers and that New York has a strong and vibrant agricultural future.”
Assembly Member Donna Lupardo, Chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee, said, “As New York fully embraces agriculture as an economic driver and source of high quality food, land development remains a constant challenge. This milestone signals our commitment to preserving farmland for future generations. The Farmland Protection program is one of a number of investments the state is making that build on our strong farming tradition.”
Senator Rachel May, Chair of Legislative Commission on Rural Resources, said, “As the Chair of the Legislative Commission on Rural Resources, I am thrilled at the announcement of over 75,000 acres of farmland protected through the Farmland Protection Implementation Grant (FPIG) program. Our farmlands are precious as livelihoods for our farmers, resources for our residents, and natural capital that we must ensure lasts into future generations. Congratulations to Brock Acres Farm, the Finger Lakes Land Trust, and all of our partners for helping protect our farmland from development for the foreseeable future and thank you to Governor Cuomo for continuing to support this vital program.
“Agriculture is the No. 1 industry in the Finger Lakes region and is a top driver of job creation in our local communities and state. Yet every day, we see more and more farmland taken out of agricultural production across New York State. It is imperative that we support our family farms in order to boost the economy of our region and state and protect our environment. As Canandaigua Town Supervisor, I worked to enhance farmland protection efforts in the town. This experience is why I fought to make sure there was money in the state budget dedicated to helping farmers and farm families preserve their land and keep it in agricultural production, and I am pleased that it has helped the Brocklebank family preserve its sixth-generation family farm. I wish the Brocklebank family well, and I applaud them and their partners for their efforts to protect the Canandaigua Lake watershed and the Finger Lakes region,”said Senator Pamela Helming.
Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb said, “Our hard-working farmers need and deserve the important benefits provided by the Farmland Protection Implementation Grant program, now more than ever. As industry and regulatory pressures increase on New York’s farming community, we must do everything in our power to assist the men and women who have worked the land for generations to provide the food and products on which we depend. Healthy farms, a vibrant agricultural community, and continued investments in farmland protection are critical to New York’s overall economic health.”
Town of Canandaigua Manager Doug Finch said, “The Town of Canandaigua is proud of our agricultural heritage and has continued to make the protection and promotion of agriculture a top priority as a farm friendly community. The protection of Brock Acres is a big step forward in protecting farmland for future generations in the Town of Canandaigua’s Strategic Farmland Protection Area. Adding these parcels to our growing list of farmland with extinguished development rights in the Town’s 10,800-acre Padelford Brook Greenway means more than 2,000 acres in close proximity to one another in the Town of Canandaigua will be available generations from now to ensure continued agriculture operations.”
About the Finger Lakes Land Trust
The Finger Lakes Land Trust has worked with landowners and local communities to protect more than 22,500 acres of the region’s undeveloped lakeshore, rugged gorges, rolling forest and scenic farmland, while managing a network of more than 30 nature preserves that are open to the public. The Land Trust holds perpetual conservation easements on 138 properties that remain in private ownership and focuses on protecting critical fish and wildlife habitat, water quality and working farms, while providing education about conservation and the region’s unique natural resources.
–NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets
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