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New York state law speeds process for protecting farmland from development

Agriculture.com Staff 07/11/2010 @ 11:00pm

American Farmland Trust (AFT) is applauding state legislation that was signed into law on May 25 that will cut red tape for farmers participating in New York’s Farmland Protection Program.  The legislation makes land trusts eligible to apply directly to the state’s Farmland Protection Program for funding to permanently protect working farms from development.

Until now, only municipalities and counties have been eligible to apply for funding from the state’s Farmland Protection Program. In 75% of funded projects, towns and counties have subsequently contracted with private land trusts to complete the projects and ensure that participating farms remain permanently protected.

“This legislation will help farmers protect their land more quickly, while ensuring transparency and accountability in the process,” says David Haight, New York Director for the American Farmland Trust.

"This law, that was recently signed by the Governor, will no doubt improve the time and process necessary to complete farmland protection projects,” says Assemblyman William Magee (D-NY 111), who is the chairman of the Assembly Agriculture Committee and sponsored the bill.  “For years I have been actively working towards keeping our farmlands vital in New York State and continuing to develop new ways to protect our farmlands."

“Farmland preservation protects our open spaces from development, provides revenue for farmers, and keeps our land producing food for New York families,” says Senator Darrel J. Aubertine (D-NY 48), chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, who co-sponsored the legislation. Aubertine is a  longtime support of farmland protection and organizations like New York Agricultural Land Trust and American Farmland Trust. “This will expand the opportunities for farmers throughout the state by enabling land trusts to help farmers apply for preservation grants.”

“Local governments have historically relied on local land trusts, which often are the final holders of the easement, to help them through this complex process.” says Maureen Knapp, a livestock and fruit farmer and interim executive director of the New York Agricultural Land Trust.  “This new law makes sense. It will shorten the length of time for farmers it takes for farmers to protect their land and makes the program more efficient.”

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