Apply by March 5 for money to help save farmland from development

Two state grant programs that add up to $5.5 million will fund farmland protection projects. State Sen. Pam Helming, R-Canandaigua, announced the grants that can help preserve viable farmland — protecting it from development and conversion to non-farm uses.

“The funding helps farmers identify available land and expedite the process of permanently protecting agricultural properties through conservation easements,” stated the senator. She urged municipal and community leaders to take advantage of the funding.

“It is critical that we continue to discuss the different development pressures on our farmland and how our local communities can plan for and promote farmland preservation,” Helming stated.

The $5 million Farmland Protection Implementation Program helps landowners interested in permanently protecting their farms by determining the value of development rights and expediting the process to purchase a perpetual conservation easement. Grants of up to $500,000 help eligible applicants, such as municipalities, counties, soil and water conservation districts and land trusts. The money can cover the costs associated with obtaining a conservation easement.

The new $500,000 Land Trust Grants program supports farmland protection projects identified by counties and municipalities and provides grants of up to $50,000 to land trusts. The funding will help develop local inventories of viable farmland and inform landowners of programs and opportunities to protect their properties from conversion to non-farm uses. It will also help expand outreach efforts to better connect willing landowners with farmers interested in leasing or buying their properties for agricultural production.

“In the Wayne-Finger Lakes region, we rely on our farmland to put healthy, nutritious food and milk on our tables,” stated Helming. “Our farmland is also important to our regional economy because farms and agribusinesses are a top job creator. With our diversity of locally grown farm products, leading agricultural research at Cornell University, and abundant fresh and clean water, New York State really is at the forefront of farming excellence.”

Applications must be in by Monday, March 5. More details are on the Department of Agriculture and Markets website., https://www.agriculture.ny.gov/RFPS.html

Political Roundup, a clearinghouse of announcements and developments in local politics, runs on Fridays in the Daily Messenger. To submit an item for consideration, email senior reporter Julie Sherwood at jsherwood@messengerpostmedia.com.