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Jun 13, 2018 2:26 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

State Offers Funds To Protect Farmland

A food-only farm In Wainscott. KYRIL BROMLEY KYRIL BROMLEY
Jun 17, 2018 5:09 PM

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced last month nearly $38 million to help protect farmland across the state. The funding is available through the Farmland Protection Implementation Grant program, from the state Environmental Protection Fund’s $300 million budget.

“By investing in the sustainability and growth of New York’s farmland, we are protecting an important economic driver for communities across the state while providing opportunities for our agriculture industry to grow,” Mr. Cuomo said, referring to the state-led effort to preserve and designate more land for agricultural purposes. Through its farm-to-table campaign Taste NY, the state has actively marketed food and beverages grown, produced, and processed in New York State.

As for the agricultural grants, land trusts and municipalities are eligible to apply for individual grants of up to $2 million to offset the costs of conservation easements, which protect land designated for agriculture from being converted for non-agricultural uses.

“This funding opportunity continues the state’s commitment to provide financial and technical assistance for farmland protection on a predictable two-year cycle,” State Assemblyman Fred Thiele’s office said in a statement.

This year, the state also includes “preemptive purchase rights as an eligible cost” in the grant application process. The right keeps agricultural land active, and viable for sale to other farmers. This could be a valuable tool for preserving land for agricultural production, his office added, by creating an option for new and beginning farmers to acquire farmland.

“The Farmland Protection grant funding works to keep farmers farming, New York Farm Bureau President Dave Fisher said in a statement. “Development pressure is one of the issues facing New York agriculture, and the latest round of funding is an important tool to help farmers preserve farmland for the next generation and reinvest into their family businesses.”

The deadline to apply for funds is August 31.

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