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Money available for farmland protection

ALBANY - Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the availability of $20.5 million to aid farmland protection efforts and help prevent viable agricultural land from being converted to non-agricultural use. Eligible entities, including municipalities, counties, soil and water conservation districts (SWCD) and not-for-profit conservation organizations/land trusts, can apply for individual grants under the Round 13 Farmland Protection Implementation Grants Request for Proposals (RFP).

“Protecting and maintaining farmland is vital to supporting the continued growth of New York’s robust agricultural industries,” Cuomo said. “Farming supports jobs, businesses and economic activity in communities across the State, ultimately representing a cornerstone of our State's economy. This funding will help to make sure that farms are kept in production, given the tools to grow, and ensure support for farmers and their families."

Funding is available through the New York State Environmental Protection Fund and administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. When offered in the past, the grant has been highly competitive, with requests for State assistance often exceeding available funds by a factor of three.

The Department of Agriculture and Markets anticipates that an even greater number of proposals will be submitted this year because the grant has not been offered by New York State for several years. Additionally, revisions to State law have increased the State contribution to a maximum of 87.5 percent (up from 75 percent) and also expanded the number of entities now eligible to apply directly for these funds – adding land trusts and SWCDs

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “We’ve taken a good hard look at this program – what works well and how we could improve. We’ve listened to program participants and as a result we have taken a number of steps to streamline the process and ensure projects are completed more quickly and effectively. While this program is ongoing, we believe that New York agriculture will embrace the changes that we’re putting forward.”