New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets will soon be accepting applications for municipalities to develop local agricultural economic development and farmland protection plans. Interested municipalities are eligible for grants up to $25,000 or 75% of the cost (which ever is less) of developing a local protection plan.
Applications for municipal grant funds are expected to be released early this summer, according to John Brennan, Ag and Market's farmland protection specialist. The Department has set aside approximately $800,000 for the Municipal Planning Grant Program. Grants will be awarded on a first come first serve basis.
Guidelines and the application will be posted on the Department's web site, www.agmkt.state.ny.us under "Funding Opportunities".
Local plans would need to:
- Identify the location of any agricultural lands proposed to be protected;
- Provide an analysis of the value of proposed protected lands to the economy of the municipality and open space value;
- Describe the threats to productive farmland and consequences of farmland conversion, and
- Develop realistic programs and strategies to promote and maintain the economic viability of the local agricultural industry and its agricultural land base.
The grant program will provide local municipalities the opportunity to craft a specific strategy or group of strategies to keep their farm community viable. Local government can play a key role in revising local land use regulations and development policies that hinder a farmer's ability to grow and diversity their business.
Through the program, adds Brennan, municipalities can evaluate new markets and business development opportunities specifically tailored to address the needs of their farm community. For more information, contact Brennan at 518-457-5606, or e-mail him at: email@example.com.