It is encouraging to read that the New York State Governor, Eliot Spitzer, is again providing funding to protect our historic farmlands. In Round XI of the Farmland Protection Program, Cayuga County will receive about $2.3 million to partner with the New York Agricultural Land Trust to protect two farms. One of these farms, Allen Farms, is located in Scipio.
Now approaching 800 acres, Allen Farms was founded in the mid 1800s and is primarily a dairy farm. Its soil is 88% prime soil.
The Farmland Protection Program gives money to municipalities to support local farmland protection activities. For example, it lets municipalities purchase development rights on these historic farms, and that allows the farmers to use their equity without selling their farm.
Title 3, Article 49 of the New York State Environmental Conservation Law allows for the creation or conveyance of a conservation easement on real property. A conservation easement is a legal document written in the form of a deed, in which a landowner permanently restricts the future development of real property for the purpose of preserving or maintaining the scenic, open, historic, agricultural, or natural condition, character, significance or amenities of that property. Under the State’s Farmland Protection Program, agricultural conservation easements must be held, monitored and enforced, in perpetuity, by a public body (e.g. a county or town) and/or a qualified conservation organization, such as a land trust, which has the authority to acquire interests in real property. Any amendments to an easement funded under this program must be in keeping with the stated agricultural purposes of the easement and must be approved by the Department.
Further details can be found at the website of NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets at http://www.agmkt.state.ny.us/AP/agservices/farmprotect.html.
There are other websites with related information as well. The Cayuga County Planning Board has played an active role in assisting with these applications, and may be another source of information.
As a Town Historian, I am pleased to hear that the rural nature of our town is being preserved where possible.