Grasstravaganza 2014, July 17-19 at Morrisville State College

Grasstravaganza 2014

Pasture Soil Health Creates Wealth

July 17-19, 2014
Morrisville State College, Morrisville, New York

The Grasstravaganza grazing conference returns!

Filled with knowledgeable speakers, site tours and enthusiastic vendors, Grasstravaganza is specifically designed for farmers, consumers and agriculture professionals that would like to improve their bottom line through greater soil health.

Registration and information online:

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Cayuga County Agriculture and Farmland Protection Plan draft released for public comment

Ag Plan logoCayuga County Releases the Draft of the County Agriculture and Farmland Protection Plan

Will Hold Public Hearing on May 29

A draft of the updated Cayuga County Agriculture and Farmland Protection Plan was released May 14, 2014 for public review and comment. Prepared by the Cayuga County Department of Planning and Economic Development, the draft is an update to the existing county agriculture plan adopted in 1996. The plan contains a survey and analysis of existing agricultural practices and support services, including identified strengths, opportunities, needs and challenges. The plan also includes an implementation strategy to address needs and challenges, take advantage of identified opportunities and protect the county’s agricultural strengths.

An overview of the draft will be presented on May 29, 2014 at 7 pm, at the Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES at 1879 West Genesee Street Road, Auburn. Immediately following the presentation, an opportunity for public input will be provided at a public hearing held by the Cayuga County Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board.

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Passing a Family Business to the Next Generation, Workshop in Syracuse March 26

Breaking New Ground:
Building a Sustainable Business for Generations to Come

No matter what industry family business you are part of; from the oldest industry in New York State – agriculture, to the newest tech company; you want it to thrive for future generations. The Family Business Center, NY FarmNet and Wilmington Trust present an interactive workshop for all industries that will provide options and strategies for building a business that the next generation will be excited to lead in the future.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014
7:45 am to 4:00 pm

The Genesee Grande Hotel
1060 East Genesee Street in Syracuse
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Farm Stands, Tasting Rooms, and Agritourism: Land Use Training, March 19 in Auburn

The Cayuga County Planning Board 2014 Land Use Training Series starts on March 19 with a training session on a distinctive type of agricultural use.

Farm Stands, Tasting Rooms, and Agritourism:
Where Agricultural and Commercial Uses Intersect

Wednesday, March 19, 2014 | 7 – 9 PM
Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES Conference Room
1879 West Genesee Street Road, Auburn, NY 13021
Click HERE to register

Agriculture is not just farming anymore. Some agricultural uses create impacts that are very similar to commercial development, both negatives like traffic and noise as well as benefits like increasing the tax base and providing attractive amenities. Join other local officials and agricultural business people to discuss how to properly manage the negative impacts while welcoming the positive benefits of these agricultural uses.

Cost: FREE
Presenter: Cayuga County Planning
Download the flyer

A complete list of trainings and County Planning Board meetings can be found on our website.

New State Funding to Protect Farmland with Zoning Rewrites and Transfer of Development Rights Programs

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets announced on December 16 two new funding opportunities for Farmland Protection Implementation Projects.

Grants are available to municipalities, including cities, towns and villages, for two purposes:

  1. remove unreasonable restrictions from municipal land use and subdivision regulations, zoning, and site plan requirements pertaining to agricultural land and farm operations,
  2. establish an implementation-ready Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) program for farmland protection.

Maximum funding will be $15,000 per project to a single municipality or $30,000 per project for two municipalities applying jointly. Awarded municipalities will have to provide a 25 percent local funding match. Of that match, at least 20 percent must be in cash; the rest of the match can be in-kind contributions.

A request for applications (RFA) and application materials are available on the website of the Department of Agriculture and Markets at
Look for the heading for “Farmland Protection Implementation Grants”.

It appears that applications will be accepted immediately, and will continue to be accepted on a rolling basis until all $500,000 of the available state-wide funds are awarded.

The Department of Agriculture and Markets is hosting three web seminars in January to answer questions and help guide potential applicant municipalities. The dates and times of the webinars will be:

  • January 15, 2014, between 9:00am-12:30pm
  • January 22, 2014, between 9:00am-12:30pm
  • January 29, 2014, between 9:00am-12:30pm

Registration and information about the webinars is available on the Ag & Markets’s RFP web page.

For more information, contact David Behm, Farmland Protection Program Manager, at by phone at (518) 485-7729 or by email.

More news about this round of Farmland Protection Implementation Grants:

Results of the County-wide Ag Plan November Public Meetings Now Available

Thank you to all who attended a public meeting last month for the County-wide Agriculture and Farmland Protection Plan update!  There were 86 participants in total, in addition to the 16 steering committee members who attended.  About 60% of the attendees were farmers, while 27 attendees (about 40%) identified themselves as owners of an agriculture-related business. Click here for attendance statistics.

Each meeting started out with a brief introductory powerpoint presentation about the impact of agriculture on our local economy and current trends in agriculture.  Then, attendees formed discussion groups of 10-15 people, facilitated by a steering committee member, county planning staff member, or volunteer.  The discussion groups focused on four questions for fifteen minutes each, breaking in between to report back to the room on what they had discussed. The four discussion questions were:

1. What should our county’s agriculture look like in the next 20 years?

2. What needs and challenges do our farms and agricultural businesses face?

3. What strengths and opportunities will sustain and grow our agricultural economy?

4. How can we ensure farmland is protected for future farmers?

A volunteer note-taker took notes for each discussion group.  Check out the compilation and summary of the discussion notes and the updated project website

To get the latest project updates direct to your email in box, contact project manager Rima Shamieh at or (315) 253-1484.

The County-Wide Agriculture and Farmland Protection Plan Update Has Begun

This spring, the Planning Department and the County Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board (AFPB) launched an 18-month process to update the county-wide Agriculture and Farmland Protection Plan. The plan was first written in 1996.  Creating a new plan will require extensive public participation from all facets of our community such as farmers, agricultural service and supply industries, processors, retailers, and consumers.  The new plan will aim to identify complementary strategies to protect our farmland from future development and to support and develop our agricultural economy.  To that end, we will be taking a hard look at the current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to our farmland and agricultural economy.  We will focus on meaningful actions that our county, towns, villages, and residents can take to strengthen our farming communities and facilitate economic success.

The project’s steering committee, made up of county AFPB members and stakeholders from the agricultural community, will hold its first meeting in late July.  Focus groups and public meetings to gather input will be held this fall and winter, when farmers will have a little more time on their hands.  Meanwhile, project leader and new county Planner, Rima Shamieh, is hard at work putting together a mapped inventory of all the county’s contributors to the agricultural economy, gathering background information, and analyzing local land use regulations for a county-wide “farm-friendly audit.”  Rima’s being assisted by a Master’s of Regional Planning student summer intern from Cornell University, Caitlyn Liu.

Stay tuned for more on this topic in the coming months!  Also, check out the County Planning website for more information and resources, and to sign up for the project email list (as soon as the County website updates are completed…).

Two more farms in Cayuga County protected by conservation easements

Cayuga County saw two more of its farms forever protected by conservation easements in January 2013.

Gary and Karen Gulliver of Gulliver Farms conveyed a perpetual conservation easement to the New York Agricultural Land Trust, ensuring that all of their more than 1000 acres of prime farmland in Fleming and Springport will remain viable farmland for years to come. The conservation easement for Gulliver Farms was made possible by the Cayuga County Farmland Protection Program with funding from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Farmland Protection Program.

Also in January, the Finger Lakes Land Trust accepted a donation of a perpetual conservation easement from Don McIntosh for all 650 acres of his Great Gully Farm in Springport and Ledyard.

Congratulations to the landowners and to both land trusts.

Sixth Generation Family Farm in Cayuga County Wins Statewide Award for Environmentally Sound Farming Practices

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CONTACT:                                                                                                FOR RELEASE:

Geoff Palmer                                                                                   Immediately, Wednesday

518-457-3136                                                                                                   August 8, 2012



Sixth Generation Family Farm in Cayuga County Wins Statewide Award for Environmentally Sound Farming Practices


Patterson Farms in Auburn Demonstrates that Good Stewardship of the Land Can Help Cut Costs and Improve Efficiency


            The Patterson family of Auburn, New York is the recipient of this year’s New York State Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) Award, state Agriculture Commissioner Darrel J. Aubertine announced today.  The Pattersons, along with the Cayuga County Soil and Water Conservation District, were honored by the State Department of Agriculture and Markets, Empire State Potato Growers and American Agriculturist Magazine during the Agricultural Leadership Luncheon at Empire Farm Days in Seneca Falls.


            “I congratulate the Patterson family on this tremendous achievement,” said Commissioner Aubertine.  “Since 1832, the Patterson farm has been a mainstay in Cayuga County.  From generation to generation, their family has grown and their farm has persevered.  Today, it is a thriving dairy and beef farm using cutting edge technology to increase profits and protect the environment.” 


            Patterson Farms milks approximately 1,000 cows and utilizes 2,700 acres of land to grow corn, alfalfa, grass, hay, wheat and willow biomass.  They use reduced soil plowing practices and cover crops to limit the loss of nutrients and soils entering nearby waterways such as Cayuga Lake.


            With the help of state and federal funding, Patterson Farms has invested in a state-of-the-art manure irrigation system that allows for more efficient application of nutrients.  As constructed, this 3.5 mile piped distribution system reduces impacts on local traffic and over a period of years provides considerable savings to the farm.  In 1998, Patterson Farms installed a 1,250 foot grassed waterway, 1050 feet of terraces, and 3,250 feet of underground outlets.  These practices are designed to prevent eroding soils from making their way to Cayuga Lake.   In an effort to keep clean rain water from gathering nutrients, additional practices consisting of two blind inlets, 200 feet of underground outlets, and 500 feet of drip line were installed around farm buildings that house livestock.  In 1999, they constructed a manure separation and composting system to address concerns from manure pathogens.


            The Patterson family is eager to share their successes and challenges with other farmers from different states and countries, giving tours of their farm and speaking at conferences across the state.  


            Governor Cuomo recently announced $10.6 million in grants to help 159 farms in 27 counties protect New York’s lakes, streams and rivers from agricultural runoff.  Cayuga County’s Soil and Water Conservation District received $601,481 under this grant program. 


            Four other New York farms and Conservation Districts were recognized for their contributions through Honorable Mention, including:


  • Sheland Farms of Ellisburg, sponsored by the Jefferson County Soil and Water Conservation District.
  • Sep’s Farm in Riverhead, sponsored by the Suffolk County Soil and Water District. 
  • WindyDale Farm in Acoca, sponsored by the Steuben County Soil and Water District.
  • Maxwell Farms in Geneseo, sponsored by the Livingston County Soil and Water District.


New York’s AEM program is a model for the entire nation.  Its incentive-based approach protects natural resources and meets economic needs in the field of agriculture. 


For more information, please visit:


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