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,
    AND/OR
  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
http://www.agriculture.ny.gov/RFPS.html
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:

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…).