here are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.
Aldo Leopold

23 November 2006

A Canoga Creek Thanksgiving II

23 November 2006

4:30 Cocktails

First Course Hors D’oeuvres
Pheasant in a Bramble
Petite Duck a L’orange
Fall Creek Trout Spread and Blue Corn Tortillas
Pepper Jack and Venison Stacks
Rabbit Rouge
Faisan Pate
Grouse Saut?
Cherry Goose

Wine- Swedish Hill Reserve Chardonnay (2003)

Second Course- Soup
Woodcock, Minnesota Wild Rice, and Mushroom Soup
Brie and Baguette

Third/ Main Course
Grilled Wild Turkey Breast with Horseradish Hollandaise
Farm Fresh Turkey Stuffed and Roasted Traditional
Creamed Ginger Garlic Butternut Squash
Mashed Potatoes with Garlic and Parsley
Caribbean Mashed Sweet Potato es
Green Bean Casserole
Chanterelle, Sage and Chestnut Stuffing
Corn Bread and/or Cranberry Orange Bread

Wine- Campo Lagaza, Navarra, Spain (2005)

Fourth Course
Cranberry Parks Glace

Wine- Knapp Vignoles (2005)

Fifth Course
Wild Greens with Bleu Cheese, Cranberry and Walnut Vinaigrette

Sixth Course
Homemade Apple Pie a la mode
Homemade Pumpkin Pie Cake
Homemade Chocolate Pie

Seventh Course-Digestif
Fonseca Guimaraens Vintage Port (1995)
Xocolata Picant, Artesanals La Vall D’Or (Barcelona)
La Gloria Cubana Maduro Cigar

13 November 2006

Property Rights vs. Agland Protection

“It is the policy of this state... to conserve, protect and encourage the development and improvement of agricultural land for the production of food, and other products, and also for its natural and ecological value.” Article 25AA-NYS Agriculture and Markets Law

Recently in Seneca County, New York, a conflict arose between environmental sustainability proponents and property rights advocates. This in itself is in no way surprising. However, because the opposing views were both held by members of the agriculture community, a specific and well organized segment of rural society unified under Farm Bureau, a unique opportunity presents itself to better understand some of the nuances of collisions of property rights advocacy with a particular kind of sustainability and open space preservation that favors continuing agricultural practices.

By way of background, according to a 2001 USDA Economic Research Service report on development impacts on farming
[1], development in agricultural districts may cause the following:
Suburban neighbors’ complaints about farm odors and chemical spraying may force farmers to turn to enterprises that produce fewer negative side effects. Some of the alternatives will be more profitable and some will be less.
Conflicts can arise between growers and new suburban neighbors over early morning noise, and increased traffic can hinder farmers’ ability to move their equipment along overcrowded rural roads being used as commuter routes.
Markets for traditional dairy products or field crops may be reduced, as milk-collection routes are curtailed and grain elevators go out of business. In some areas, farm input suppliers, machinery dealers, and other forms of agricultural support may decline.
Real estate taxes may rise as land prices rise to reflect the potential for non-farm development.
Growers may face increased pressure from water- and land-use restrictions.
Farms may face deteriorating crop yields from urban smog, theft, and vandalism.

Farm Bureau at the local and state level supported and favored passage of Article 25AA- NYS Agriculture and Markets Law, commonly called “The Ag Districts Law” and/or “The Right To Farm Law.”
[2] The law declared that many of the agricultural lands in New York State are in jeopardy of being lost for any agricultural purposes, and that when nonagricultural development extends into farm areas, competition for limited land resources results. The law also registered concern over ordinances inhibiting farming, rising farm taxes, and hopes for speculative gains that discourage investments in farm improvements, often leading to the idling or conversion of potentially productive agricultural land.

The law makes it the “policy of the state to conserve, protect and encourage the development and improvement of its agricultural land for production of food and other agricultural products.” It is also the declared policy of the state to conserve and protect agricultural lands as valued natural and ecological resources which provide needed open spaces for clean air sheds, as well as for aesthetic purposes.

The legal basis of the law, it was argued at its passage, was that the constitution of the state of New York directs the legislature to provide for the protection of agricultural lands. Therefore, the law was intended to provide a locally-initiated mechanism for the protection and enhancement of New York State's agricultural land as a viable segment of the local and state economies and as an economic and environmental resource of major importance. The problem is, the law anticipated only fending off attacks from the non-farming public. As a result, the law has two major “blind spots” as we shall see shortly.

New York State Agricultural Districts Law

Sixteen different states in the U.S. have developed agricultural district programs. They allow farmers to form special areas where commercial agriculture is encouraged and protected. Participation by farmers is voluntary and in exchange for enrollment, farmers receive packages of benefits including favorable tax treatment, right-to-farm protections and shielding from infrastructure financial assessments. Some states (e.g. Pennsylvania) also make it very difficult to extend public improvements into farm areas that could cause negative impacts on agriculture.

In New York State, an agricultural district is an area containing important agricultural land that is created through petition by farmers and officially designated by a County Legislature. Under provisions of the Agricultural Districts Law as amended, an agricultural district is comprised of 500 or more acres of reasonably contiguous, viable agricultural land. Districts are reviewed every eight years to determine the current extent of agricultural land in the area and to identify whether inclusions or exclusions to the district will be made.

Agricultural District programs offer several strengths as farmland protection tools. These
include the following according to the American Farmland Trust
[3] and others:
Agricultural District programs are very flexible; benefits and restrictions can be tailored to local conditions.
Agricultural Districts help stabilize the land base at low public cost.
Agricultural Districts provide multiple benefits to farmers, including tax relief, protection from local regulation and eligibility for purchase of development rights
programs. These benefits help support the economics of farming.
Agricultural Districts help create a critical mass of land to keep farming viable.
Enrollment in Agricultural Districts is voluntary, making the programs popular with farmers.
A landowner in an Agricultural District can take advantage of farmland protection
techniques that would otherwise require agricultural zoning. Such zoning can impose strict restrictions on farmland and is not part of New York's Agricultural District Law, although individual communities can opt to pursue such options as part of their own programs.

These strengths are accompanied by some drawbacks, however. Again, the American Farmland Trust suggests these include:
Sanctions for withdrawing land from agricultural districts may not be strong enough to discourage conversion.
Limits on non-farm development may not prevent expansion of public services such as water and sewer lines into agricultural areas. New York State's Agricultural District Law, fortunately, does address this issue with exemption from special district levies based on frontage and specific planning and notice requirements.
The benefits provided by Agricultural Districts are not always enough incentive for farmers to enroll. Owners must also pay penalties to remove themselves from a District prior to its eight-year term.
The procedure for creating agricultural districts can be lengthy and complex.

More Background-The Specifics of the Seneca County Case

As has been described above, the “Ag Districts Law” seems to protect farmers from undue persecution, and protect farmland from conversion to residential or commercial development. The perpetrators of these “attacks” upon farming are of course assumed to be non-farmers. But what happens when a farmer threatens the future of farmland by pushing to convert his farmland into residential development, and neighboring farmers want to fend off such an attack by invoking the “Ag Districts Law?”

In 2003, a local property owner in Seneca County New York, formerly a farmer, decided that he would provide for his retirement by converting his farmland into residential development lots. After hiring a surveyor and making appropriate drawings, maps, and plans, he approached the Town Planning Board for approval for a major subdivision. The Town is required to hold a Public Hearing for major subdivisions, and at this particular hearing, a significant public outcry ensued over the proposed subdivision. Concerns ranged from the loss of views and open space, to negative effects of sprawl upon neighboring farms, to environmental concerns about overloading a fragile water table with septic systems and consumption of potable water. A petition was circulated and many signatures were collected. The land owner had few people speak in favor of his project.

The town planning board, recognizing the furor of the proposed subdivision, decided to enter into the New York State Environmental Quality Review process using “rigorous” interpretations. The Board found that the environment would potentially be harmed by the major subdivision, and forwarded the opinion to the county planning board. The county, however, found that there would be no significant adverse impact of the conversion of this agricultural land. Taking into consideration the public’s concern with this project, the planning board recommended that the land owner revise his plans to only convert one lot to residential development at that time. The hope was that the planning board, which was nearing the end of writing a comprehensive plan for the town, would be in a better position in the future to deal with land use issues, especially if new zoning were adopted that would protect agricultural land within agricultural districts. In spite of the public outcry over the proposed subdivision, the single lot split was approved.

In 2006, the same farmer appeared again before the town planning board, this time to split off a second lot from his original farm, one of the seven lots proposed in the initial major subdivision proposal. Predictably, the farmer encountered the same adversity, perhaps with even more intensity. This time, the neighboring farmers attempted to invoke the “Ag Districts Law” while appealing to Farm Bureau and county agencies, setting in motion a pitched battle over the intent of agriculture protection laws and opening up new legal questions that remain unanswered.

The Arguments

Attempts to block or forestall conversion of the farm in question originally hinged on two related arguments; 1.) that by virtue of Agricultural Districts law, it was illegal, or at least in violation of both the spirit and the letter of the Agriculture Districts law, especially provisions to protect and preserve farmable land, for the Town Planning Board to approve residential development in a certified agriculture district, even if town zoning did not specifically prohibit it, and 2.) that allowing residential development in an agricultural district where neighboring farms had properly registered their concern through Agriculture Data Statements caused harms to the livelihoods of neighboring farms and violated their “rights to farm,” also protected in the Agriculture Districts Law (AML §305-a).

A third, unique argument to block agriculture land conversion to residential or commercial development was also presented. This argument takes a creative “future tense” interpretation of the “Right to Farm” provision in the Ag Districts law. At issue is the future “Rights to Farm” of future farmers if current farmable land is converted to commercial development. In other words, if I am a 12 year old boy with aspirations of farming in my home county, my “Right to Farm” may be impinged upon if my opportunity to farm is foreclosed by dwindling farmable land in my community.

Arguments supporting a farmer’s inalienable right to do whatever he desires with his land were not particularly new or unique, and followed strict property rights movement rhetoric closely.

Two Blind Spots

Among the threats to agricultural land, one of the largest threats is farmers who, because of development pressures, become real estate speculators and sell their land for commercial or residential development. Despite the noble and well meaning aims of Agricultural Districts Law, it seems that an overarching “problem” with the law is that it does not anticipate conflict between and among farmers about land use decisions within the agriculture community, and therefore has two significant blind spots, which prevent the law from effectively addressing one of the largest threats to farmland.

The first “blind spot” is that there is no language in the law suggesting penalty or punitive damages for violation of Agricultural Districts Law, jurisdiction, or even guidance to municipalities on what they should do to enforce. The second is that the agricultural real estate assessment “penalty upon conversion” provision intended to be a disincentive, is so small as to be meaningless. As a result of these two blind spots, among those who have the most “agency” in terms of the threat of development, there is least enforceability or accountability.

The Ag Districts law limits a town or municipalities ability to restrict or regulate agriculture, but it does not limit a towns’ ability to protect agriculture, even if it protects agriculture from some farmers who want to cash out and sell their farms. Therefore, towns and municipalities should strengthen local “Right to Farm” ordinances and impose significant penalties upon farmers wishing to cash out of agricultural districts, especially if they have reaped tax savings for having been in Ag districts. These penalties could be reduced based upon selling farmers willingness to enter into other farmland preservation programs (percentage of land in easements, PDR/TDR, etc.). This kind of approach will help create locally based agricultural enhancement initiatives that provide both incentives and disincentives in efforts to protect agricultural and open space, while preserving property rights.
[1] http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/aer803/

[2] http://www.agmkt.state.ny.us/AP/agservices/2004C115.pdf

[3] See: http://www.farmland.org/resources/publications/documents/NewYorkLandownerGuide.pdf

[4] http://www.agmkt.state.ny.us/ap/agservices/new305/guidance.pdf

20 October 2006

Farm Bureau 06 Resolution

Whereas, 1. Farmland in Seneca County is increasingly threatened by conversion to residential development, 2. Seneca County Agriculture Enhancement Plans and NYS Ag & Markets Laws are intended to protect farmers from unplanned residential development that may harm their agricultural operations’ viability, 3. Farmers in Seneca County who have recently relied upon NYS Ag & Markets Agricultural Districts and Right to Farm laws to protect their interests have been ill served,

Be it resolved that the Seneca County Farm Bureau:

1. Calls urgently upon New York State Farm Bureau to work with NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets to re-evaluate Agricultural Districts Law and to clarify enforcement of the law and penalties for violation of these critical laws.

2. Encourages New York State Farm Bureau to create a model Local Right-to-Farm law for use by local municipalities.

3. Recommends a participatory state-wide process in which New York State Farm Bureau members can become involved in a dialogue about the tensions between, on one hand, fundamental property rights and retirement or near retirement aged farmers’ strategies to sell their land for development, and on the other hand, the need to protect dwindling farmland resources in Seneca County and across the state for future farmers.

18 September 2006

House passes Horse Slaughter Prevention Act

In a disappointing vote, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a Farm Bureau-opposed bill, HR 503, the Horse Slaughter Prevention Act. This legislation would set a negative precedent by banning a livestock product for reasons other than food safety or public health. There has been no action on the Senate companion bill, S. 1915. Only Representatives Boehlert, Higgins, and McHugh voted “no” on this onerous bill. The remaining members of New York’s congressional delegation instead listened to emotional rhetoric from animal rights groups and supported passage of this legislation. Although animal rights activists claim that the Horse Slaughter Prevention Act is an animal welfare bill, its passage would actually be seriously detrimental to the humane care and treatment of horses. The unintended consequence of eliminating this humane euthanasia option for horses would result in leaving as many as 100,000 horses each year to neglect and abandonment.

31 August 2006

Reform Ag trade?

USDA Secretary Johanns said recently "that (US Farm Trade Policy) reform is necessary because current farm supports distribute much money to relatively few large producers and for selected crops that produce relatively little revenue, thereby unintentionally raising the prices of land and capital, and discouraging young people from entering agriculture."

Huh. From this administration? Johanns for President.

For more of the story, click here

25 August 2006

Making outlaws of us all

From the ASI newsletter:

New Regs for Transporting Hay

Under the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002, regulations regarding the transporting of hay will go into effect in December. The new rules are designed to protect against serious threats to the food supply. The regulations relate only to transported hay that is destined to be fed to livestock entering the nation's food chain, such as beef and dairy cattle, sheep and goats. All size farms are affected, but those who grow hay exclusively for use in their own livestock operation will see no change in procedures.

The regulations state that specific documentation must be kept by farmers if they sell, barter, give away or otherwise ship hay destined for use as livestock feed off the originating farm. If someone else does the hauling, the responsibility for record keeping shifts to the transporter. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers transporters to be anyone who has possession or control of an article of food for the sole purpose of transporting it by rail, road, water or air. The FDA requires that records concerning animal food be kept for one year. Currently, a standard bill of lading provides most of this information.

02 August 2006


Well, we did it. This was a "sticky wicket." Turned the train around, kept it from stopping in Seneca Falls permanetly, but kept it from leaving Seneca County. Seneca County wins, Agriculture wins, and the Environment wins. Next item...

See: http://www.state.ny.us/governor/press/06/0801061.html

20 July 2006

Grass on my mind...

While making hay, I recalled a quote I read somewhere about grass and Sampson...I found it and here it is.

"I have always had real affection for grass. It seems to stand for quietness and strength. I believe that the quietness and strength of grass should be, must be permanently a part of our agriculture if this nation is to have the strength it will need in the future. A countryside shorn and stripped of thick, green grass, it seems to me, is weakened just as Sampson was. An agriculture without grass loses a primary source of strength."

- Henry A. Wallace in 1940 (quoted in H.A. Wallace Institute for Alternative Agriculture 1992:5)

For an intersting read on grass based ag, see:

25 May 2006

All Work and No Play...

Mo riding roughshod over the farm work ethic... ain't she purty though?

18 May 2006

Breaking News...

We purchased two more registered angus heifers at the New York State Empire Heifer Development program sale. That brings the breeding herd size to 4 registered angus plus 5 commercial angus cross cows for a total of 9 cows plus 6 steers.

05 May 2006

Farm Typology

Fresh from ERS at USDA-

Farm typology

The Economic Research Service (ERS) has developed a farm classification to divide U.S. farms into eight mutually exclusive and more homogeneous groups. The farm typology focuses on "family farms," or farms organized as proprietorships, partnerships, and family corporations that are not operated by a hired manager. To be complete, however, it also includes nonfamily farms. A collapsed farm typology combines the eight groups into three categories.

Small Family Farms (sales less than $250,000)

Limited-resource farms. Any small farm with: (1) gross sales less than $100,000, (2) total farm assets less than $150,000, and (3) total operator household income less than $20,000. Limited-resource farmers may report farming, a nonfarm occupation, or retirement as their major occupation.

Retirement farms. Small farms whose operators report they are retired (excludes limited-resource farms operated by retired farmers).

Residential/lifestyle farms. Small farms whose operators report they had a major occupation other than farming (excludes limited-resource farms with operators reporting a nonfarm major occupation).

Farming occupation/lower-sales. Small farms with sales less than $100,000 whose operators report farming as their major occupation (excludes limited-resource farms whose operators report farming as their major occupation).

Farming occupation/high-sales. Small farms with sales between $100,000 and $249,999 whose operators report farming as their major occupation.

Other Farms
Large family farms. Farms with sales between $250,000 and $499,999.

Very large family farms. Farms with sales of $500,000 or more.

Nonfamily farms. Farms organized as nonfamily corporations or cooperatives, as well as farms operated by hired managers.

For further details on the collapsed farm typology, see Food and Agricultural Policy—Taking Stock for the New Century (Appendix 1).

Collapsed Farm Typology
The collapsed farm typology combines the eight farm typology groups into three categories:
Rural residence farms. Includes limited-resource, retirement, and residential lifestyle farms.

Intermediate farms. Includes farming occupation/lower-sales and farming occupation/higher-sales farms.

Commercial farms. Includes large, very large, and nonfamily farms.

27 April 2006

On The Farm

On The Farm

There was Dai Puw. He was no good.
They put him in the fields to dock swedes,
And took the knife from him, when he came home
At late evening with a grin
Like the slash of a knife on his face.

There was Llew Puw, and he was no good.
Every evening after the ploughing
With the big tractor he would sit in his chair,
And stare into the tangled fire garden,
Opening his slow lips like a snail.

There was Huw Puw, too. What shall I say?
I have heard him whistling in the hedges
On and on, as though winter
Would never again leave those fields,
And all the trees were deformed.

And lastly there was the girl:
Beauty under some spell of the beast.
Her pale face was the lantern
By which they read in life's dark book
The shrill sentence: God is love.

R.S. Thomas

17 March 2006

...what about urban agriculture?

I wonder if the community gardens in New Orleans would qualify for funds...

March 15, 2006: The U. S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) will allocate close to $20.1 million in Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) funding to 26 states affected by natural disasters. ECP gives producers resources to remove debris from farmland, restore fences and conservation structures, provide water for livestock in drought situations and grade and shape farmland damaged by a natural disaster. For details, see http://www.agweb.com/get_article.asp?pageid=125948&src=agnews

06 February 2006

Small Farming 101

Life on a small farm might seem primitive, but by living such a life we become able to discover the Great Path. I believe that one who deeply respects his neighborhood and everyday world in which he lives will be shown the greatest of all worlds.
~ Masanobu Fukuoka ~

Small Farm Nostalgia?

New York Times
February 5, 2006
Op-Ed Contributor

Nebraska's Nostalgia Trap

ON average, Nebraska's economy is doing just fine. But a man whose head is in the oven and whose feet are in the freezer takes no comfort in knowing that his average body temperature is perfectly normal. In the same vein, a casual glance at a graph of Nebraska's population growth shows slow, steady increases, going all the way back to 1900, and conceals the fact that 74 of Nebraska's 93 counties are in extremis, with lower populations today than they had in 1920.

Over a third of the state's 1.7 million residents live in greater Omaha, which is booming by many measures, including population growth. According to Ernie Goss, an economist at Creighton University here, Omaha is growing faster than Des Moines, Kansas City and St. Louis.

What about the rest of Nebraska? Well, it's big: over 77,000 square miles (about 10 percent bigger than the six New England states combined) and 450 miles wide, roughly the distance from Boston to the District of Columbia. Most of the economic growth occurs along the thoroughfares that form what local economists call "the fishhook": Highway 275 from Omaha to Norfolk being the hook, and Interstate 80 from Omaha to Colorado being the stem.

Outside of Omaha and the fishhook, large parts of Nebraska are arguably in trouble. The dismal statistic that trends lower, year after year, for many of these struggling counties, is population.

Farms double in size with a regularity that rivals the seasons, while, almost in tandem, the number of farming families falls by half. The costs for schools, roads and police and fire departments remain relatively constant, but the bodies paying taxes, buying goods and developing land keep disappearing. County officials call it rural flight, brain drain or even mass migration, but despite the alarums, nobody has found a way to stop the excursions.

States like Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Wisconsin have tried to fight the trend by restricting the corporate consolidation of farms: Keep the farmers on their land by stopping vast corporations from buying 10 farms and consolidating them into one, which is basically what keeps happening.

In 1982, Nebraska went even farther and embedded a ban on corporations owning and operating farms — Initiative 300 — in its Constitution. Last December, a federal judge in Omaha ruled that the ban violates the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution and the Americans with Disabilities Act (because the ban also requires that the person owning most of the farmland also supply most of the daily labor). Some Nebraskans hope the ruling will be overturned, but that seems unlikely.

Opponents of these laws, which purport to protect family farmers, view them as economic nostalgia — like trying to protect the local paper by banning Internet news sites and mandating that the newspaper be delivered by a towheaded kid on a bicycle. If rank protectionism is not the solution, then what is?

Doug German, executive director of Legal Aid of Nebraska, who lives in the central part of the state, just off the fishhook, in Eustis (pop. 425), and provides legal services to the casualties of the state's poorer counties, agrees that rural Nebraska is at a "tipping point." The antidote to its economic depopulation, he believes, does not lie in bringing Intel or Toyota factories to the heartland, but in Nebraskans resolutely blooming where they are planted and developing micro industries capable of flourishing anywhere, with the help of computer and Internet technologies.

I hope Mr. German is right, but I wonder what kind of micro industry will save the likes of Arthur County (half the size of Rhode Island), where the population peaked at 1,412 in 1920, was 442 in 2000, and 402 in 2004? In these parts, during election season, the signs along the road say "Vote for Helen, County Assessor," because there's only one Helen, and she's running unopposed.

Instead of micro industries, a cynical futurist might see mega-farms, owned by global corporations, and farmed by armies of robot combines, controlled by global positioning satellite technology from offices in Omaha.

Richard Dooling is a screenwriter and the author, most recently, of "Bet Your Life."

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

24 January 2006

A reason...

...for those who must ask why.

"If you assume that there is no hope, you guarantee that there will be
no hope. If you assume that there is an instinct for freedom, that
there are opportunities to change things, then there is a possibility
that you can contribute to making a better world. That's your choice."

-N. Chomsky

16 January 2006

New York Oak

“NEW YORK OAK” may appear on wine labels in the near future, thanks to an experiment by the innovative and iconoclastic winemaker at Lakewood Vineyards, Chris Stamp, who is now aging wine in barrels made from white oak harvested in New York State. The concept is the ultimate in “terroir”: using oak from the same basic climate that affects the vineyards. The barrels arrived this fall, but it will be some time before the wines in them will be released. (Wine Press Dec 30)

10 January 2006

Ny Ag Literacy

Save the Date!! Do something Aggie with the kids.

04 January 2006

Preserving the Land a 2006 NY Farm Bureau Priority

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.