Weekly Feature

2018-08-09 / Local News

Bill protecting farmland becomes law

Gallivan Gallivan A Senate bill improving the existing Farmland Protection Implementation Grant Program has been signed into law.

According to Sen. Patrick Gallivan, the measure, co-sponsored by Gallivan, strengthens the grant program to better protect farmland, improves the chances of farmer-to-farmer property transactions and keeps active farmland in use.

“This new law will further support agriculture as New York’s number one industry,” Gallivan said. “By promoting the sale of farmland from one farmer to another, we help ensure the continued production of fresh food and other agricultural products, and the growth of new family farms throughout New York.”

New York farmers who are age 65 and older own or manage nearly a third of the more than 7 million acres of farmland in the state, and many of them do not have an identified successor to take over the farm. As these farmers retire, roughly 2 million acres of farmland in New York are, or will soon be, transitioning to new ownership. Without new protections in place to promote sales of farmland to another working farmer, Gallivan said ownership of protected farmland is not guaranteed to pass to another farmer.

While traditional conservation easements restrict development rights, this law would further restrict the value of the farm to its agricultural use value — an appraised value that reflects what a working farm is worth — making it even more affordable for working farmers to buy.

By making farmer-purchaser agreements eligible for state assistance payments in the Farmland Protection Implementation Program, retiring farmers who wish to preserve their farms may be willing to negotiate easements, and more farms will remain in the hands of working farmers, Gallivan said.

This law takes effect in 90 days.

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