County-Wide Agriculture and Farmland Protection Plan
Agriculture in Cayuga County is a diverse, multi-million dollar industry and a crucial land use that strengthens our local food supply, economic vitality, community character, and quality of life. A lot has changed since the adoption of our agriculture and farmland protection plan in 1996. New protection tools such as Purchase of Development Rights (PDRs) have become more crucial. Farm operations are becoming ever more sophisticated and the size of farm operations is changing. Local food movements are gaining momentum. New York is experiencing significant changes in food processing state-wide. A need has emerged for a stronger, more strategic vision for agricultural economic development and farmland protection. These changes have prompted an update of the existing plan.
Updating the County-wide Plan
The success of the new plan will depend on the participation and guidance of our farmers, processors, distributors, transporters, wholesale and retail businesses, other agricultural support businesses, local consumers, young people, non-profits and government agencies. The updated plan will aim to identify complementary strategies to protect our farmland from future development and to support and develop our agricultural economy. To that end, this plan will take a hard look at the current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to our farmland and agricultural economy. It will focus on identifying meaningful actions that our county, towns, villages and residents can take to strengthen our farming communities and facilitate economic success.
Cayuga County's Agriculture and Farmland Protection Plan update is funded in part by a grant from New York State's Department of Agriculture and Markets. As such, certain basic requirements must be met by the County. Article 25AAA Section 324 of the New York State Agriculture and Markets Law states:
- County agricultural and farmland protection boards may develop plans, in cooperation with the local soil and water conservation district and soil conservation service, which shall include, but not be limited to:
- the location of any land or areas proposed to be protected;
- an analysis of the following factors concerning any areas and lands proposed to be protected:
- value to the agricultural economy of the county;
- open space value;
- consequences of possible conversion; and
- level of conversion pressure on the lands or areas proposed to be protected; and
- a description of the activities, programs and strategies intended to be used by the county to promote continued agricultural use.
- The county agricultural and farmland protection board shall conduct at least one public hearing for public input regarding such agricultural and farmland
protection plan, and shall thereafter submit such plan to the county legislative body for its approval.
- The county agricultural protection plan must be submitted by the county to the commissioner for approval.
Cayuga County's new agriculture and farmland protection plan will include a lot more than just the basic requirements. Agriculture is a major economic sector in Cayuga County, so it is important that the new plan focus heavily on addressing the needs and challenges of our agricultural enterprises. Additionally, the plan will include a "farm-friendly audit" of local regulations and work with each town to identify possible improvements. The public will have many opportunities to contribute meaningfully to the plan through focus groups and public meetings that will be held throughout the county.