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…).