This is a huge victory in and of itself, for those of us that have been working hard on this issue for some time. Now, we can REALLY get to work!
New York Farm Bureau
Priority Issue 2006
Preserving the Land
New York communities receive environmental, social and economic benefits from the working landscapes created by agriculture. New York farms can only continue to provide these benefits through the implementation of public policy that supports farm profitability and stability. This includes the recognition that land resources, as a necessary and vital part of the farm operation, need to be protected and that all efforts should be made to maintain them in agriculture. The authority for local establishment of agricultural districts is one example of previous positive legislation that protects farm businesses.
Inherent to maintaining the viability of a farm operation is being able to depend on the land resource. This certainty was thrown into question last year under a Supreme Court decision which determined essentially, that because another private business may ultimately pay more in taxes, farmland can be taken through eminent domain proceedings and given to that business. Not addressing this decision means that New York will continue to have fundamentally flawed policy that may not recognize private property rights at the most basic level and limits any effort to grow one of New York’s largest industries.
All too often in land-use planning, agriculture is not made a priority. This fact, combined with well intentioned, but poorly designed, land-use tools actually encourages open-space destruction. As areas of New York face increasing development pressure, efforts need to be made to ensure that local officials understand the importance of agriculture and provide land-use regulations that effectively promote farm businesses. These officials also need to be provided with tools and funds necessary to preserve farmland in the community.
Farmers are proud to serve as the stewards of many of our natural resources and work hard to take care of the land. However, they have a large task and need assistance to implement best management practices that protect our environment, but that may not add to the financial viability of the businesses. Helping farms protect the land is essential to the sustainability of New York agriculture and New York communities.
· Support an amendment to the State Constitution banning the use of eminent domain to acquire land for economic development purposes. Advocate for changes to New York’s Eminent Domain Procedure Law that strengthen the protections provided land owners involved in the eminent domain process.
· Work for further enhancement of the Environmental Protection Fund and respective increases in agriculture related EPF programs and categories.
· Require that local officials dealing with land-use issues receive sound basic training and that a curriculum on agricultural land-use be developed.
· Authorize municipalities, with local voter support, to increase the real estate transfer tax up to two percent, to provide funding support for farmland preservation projects.
· Removal of the capital gains tax required on the sale of farmland development rights sold for conservation and preservation purposes.
· Enact statute recognizing that timber should be considered tangible property for the purposes of assessment values.