Farmers, aspiring farmers, and organizations across New York State are rallying to urge Governor Cuomo to pass a bill that would improve land access for beginning farmers in the state.
If passed, this bill could provide access to state-owned farmland for beginning farmers, bolster technical support to both beginning farmers and organizations that assist them with land transfer, and reduce the likelihood of state-owned farmland being developed.
The bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Bill Magee and Senator Patty Ritchie, has been passed by both houses of the legislature and just needs the Governor’s signature to become law!
The key features of this legislation:
- Inventorying of state lands. The bill would require state agencies to inventory and publicize their landholdings and assess the suitability of the land for farming.
- Farmland conservation. Viable agricultural lands would be considered for conservation through the state farmland protection program and made available to famers for lease or purchase.
- Beginning farmer land access. The bill requires the state to enhance beginning farmers’ access to this land and to support the successful transfer of viable farmland from retiring owners to the next generation of farmers.
- Beginning farmer assistance. The bill requires the Department of Agriculture to provide guidance regarding taxes, financial assistance, and other policies and programs that could address the needs of beginning farmers.
The National Young Farmers Coalition, along with the American Farmland Trust and Agrarian Trust, are asking supporters across York State to sign on to a letter urging the Governor to turn this bill into law.
If you would like to add your name to the growing list of supporters, email the following information to firstname.lastname@example.org:
If you are a farmer, send:
- Your full name
- The name of your farm, or the farm you are associated with
- The town in which the farm is located
If you are an aspiring farmer not yet on a farm, we need to know:
- Your name (below your signature you will be given the title “Beginning Farmer”)
- The town you live in
If you are representing an organization, we need:
- Name of signatory on behalf of the organization
- Title of signatory
- Name of the organization
- Location of organization’s headquarters
In other exciting New York State land access news, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has been working with Dr. Gary Kleppel, a farmer and professor at the University of Albany, to develop a conservation grazing protocol that would allow farmers to graze animals on state-held lands for conservation purposes (think goats snacking on poison ivy and other invasives). Wondering what this might look like? Here is a recent example from the New York Times of sheep being used to manage State Park lands in the Hudson Valley.
The National Young Farmers Coalition, in partnership with the Agrarian Trust, is working with the state and Dr. Kleppel to develop the protocol and advocate for beginning farmers. The next step is a pilot program in the Hudson Valley. Stay tuned!