$31.5M awarded to conserve farmland across New York

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FILE – In this Aug. 26, 2020 file photo, a farmer discs over a corn field on at a farm north of Woodward, Iowa. The corn was damaged beyond salvage by the recent derecho. Thanks to the government paying nearly 40% of their income, U.S. farmers are expected to end 2020 with higher profit than 2019 and the best net income in seven years, the Department of Agriculture said in its latest farm income forecast. Farmers faced challenges throughout 2020 that included the impact of trade disputes; low prices that drove down cash receipts and weather difficulties. (Bryon Houlgrave/The Des Moines Register via AP File)

ALBANY, N.Y. (WSYR) — New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Friday that more than $31.5 million is being awarded to strengthen New York’s agricultural industry through the Farmland Protection Implementation Grants (FPIG) program.

These projects will protect a total of 15,600 acres on 22 New York dairy farms and eight non-dairy farms, helping to keep valuable farmland in production, encourage diversification, and ensure the long-term viability of New York’s farming operations. Since 2018, New York has made available more than $117 million for farmland protection statewide.

  • Agricultural Stewardship Association: $1,438,623 for:
    • Sheffer’s Grassland Dairy in Hoosick and Pittstown, Rensselaer County
    • Lindgren Farm in Hebron, Washington County
    • Ro-Acres Farm in White Creek, Washington County
    • Swezey View Farm in Hartford, Washington County.
  • Columbia Land Conservancy: $1,537,982 for:
    • High Low Farm in Copake
    • Taking Care Farm in Ancram
  • Saratoga PLAN: $870,826 for:
    • Barber Brothers Dairy Farm II in the Northumberland
  • Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy: $932,389 for:
    • Glenvue Farms, in Glen and Root, Montgomery County
  • Schoharie Land Trust: $247,086 for:
    • Danforth Farm in Jefferson, Schoharie County (the first-ever FPIG award in Schoharie County)
  • Agricultural Stewardship Association: $1,374,555 for:
    • Hayfields Farm in Pittstown and Schaghticoke, Rensselaer County.

“Climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic are creating unprecedented challenges for farmers throughout New York State, and preserving their farmland for production will aid our economic recovery,” Cuomo said. “These Farmland Protection awards will give farmers much-needed support to conserve land, diversify their operations to expand market opportunities, and continue to produce and sell a diverse array of New York-made foods. Farming has long been an important part of the state’s economy and this program will preserve more than 15,000 acres for the next generation of New York farmers.”

More than $20.9 million will support conservation easement projects on the dairy farms through the FPIG Dairy Transitions Farmland Protection Initiative. Dairy farmers continue to face challenges from prolonged low milk prices, increasing the threat that viable agricultural land may be converted to non-farm development.

More than $10.8 million will support conservation easement projects on eight New York farms outside of the dairy sector through the FPIG Farm Operations in Transition Farmland Protection Initiative. The projects will protect more than 4,300 acres of farmland.

This is the second round of the dairy program. More than $30.7 million was awarded in 2019 to 32 dairy farms, protecting 15,102 acres of farmland in Round 1. About $5 million in funding for the Dairy Transitions Farmland Protection Initiative is still available. Awards will be made on a rolling basis until those funds are committed.

As with dairy farms, these farm operations are vulnerable to many challenges facing the agricultural industry today, including trade disputes, changing consumer preferences, and climate change, increasing the threat that valuable agricultural land may be converted to non-farm development. Nearly $3 million is still available for the Farm Operations in Transition Farmland Protection Initiative. Awards are made on a rolling basis.

The Department encourages its partners across the state to apply for the remaining funds.

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