Friday, July 6, 2018

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$30 million in state farmland protection implementation grants to be awarded

Locust Grove Farm in the Dutchess County Town of Pleasant Valley received a
conservation easement a year ago this month (file photo)

ALBANY - Governor Andrew Cuomo announced $30 million is available statewide to support conservation easement projects on dairy farms. New York's dairy farmers have been challenged with prolonged low milk prices, increasing the threat of the conversion of viable agricultural land to non-farm development. Funding through the state's Farmland Protection Implementation Grants Program will ensure dairy farms the opportunity to diversify their operations or transition their farm to the next generation at a more affordable cost while ensuring the land forever remains used for agricultural purposes.

"New York's dairy industry is critical to local economies across the state and we must ensure that our dairy farmers have the resources they need to thrive among the challenges of the current marketplace,"  Cuomo said on Friday. "This funding will help to protect dairy farmers by providing them with additional options to upgrade their operations and keep them running and prosperous for generations to come." 

Ensuring that the viable agricultural land base of an operating dairy farm is protected from conversion to non-farm uses is essential to the long-term viability and sustainability of New York's agricultural industry. The largest sector of the agricultural industry, New York's dairy industry is a critical component of State's economy, accounting for approximately one-half of its on-farm production, support services and value-added products. New York State is home to approximately 4,500 dairy farms with 620,000 cows, producing 14.9 billion pounds of milk. New York ranks third in the production of milk and is first in the nation in the production of other dairy products such as yogurt and cottage cheese. 

The state is issuing a Request for Applications for farmland protection grants of up to $2 million from eligible entities, such as land trusts, municipalities, county agricultural and farmland protection boards, and State Soil and Water Conservation Districts. There is no application deadline.

Conservation easement projects will be awarded to eligible dairy farms that are:

  • Transitioning to the next ownership of a continuing dairy, but whose operation has been modified to ensure greater financial sustainability;
  • Continuing dairy, but diversifying the overall farm operation;  
  • Converting to a non-dairy farm operation.

"New York's dairy farms are faced with increasing economic pressures as milk prices remain at historic lows,” said State Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball.  “While prices are set at the federal level, the State is working on numerous initiatives to help our dairy farms, including new marketing efforts, increased promotion, and investment in dairy facilities to increase processing capacity around the State. The Farmland Protection program for dairy will provide additional options for our dairy farmers to secure the future of their farm with the next generation or add an additional cash crop into their business plan, all while protecting valuable and at-risk farmland from non-agricultural development."

All farmland protection project proposals must be submitted electronically through the New York State Grants Gateway. For more information regarding the Grants Gateway, please visit https://grantsgateway.ny.gov. Additional information and the RFA can be found on the Department's website at www.agriculture.ny.gov/RFPS.html.

 


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