Purchase of Development Rights

A Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) is a voluntary legal agreement, or conservation easement, that restricts all future non-farm development while encouraging farming, forestry, and other land uses that are compatible with agriculture. PDRs allow land to stay in private ownership and on the tax rolls.

Farmland Protection Program

Cayuga County's Farmland Protection Program launched in 2001 with an award of over $1,000,000 dollars from New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets (NYSDAM) for protection of 676 acres on the DeGroff Farm in the Town of Fleming, through the purchase of development rights on that farm. Between 2001 and 2016, Cayuga County has helped secure $12,602,562 in funds to protect a total of 7,292.48 acres on 13 farms in the Town of Aurelius, Cato, Fleming, Scipio and Springport. This active farmland is now protected by permanent conservation easements; and these easements are currently held, monitored, and enforced by the New York Agricultural Land Trust (NYALT). In 2018, two additional farms received funding from NYSDAM to protect 598.70 acres in the Town of Aurelius, Brutus and Fleming. These two projects, once complete, will bring the total protected farmland in Cayuga County to 7,891.18 acres.

NYSDAM administers New York State's Farmland Protection Program, which can pay for up to 87.5% of the cost of PDRs. Properties are chosen using ranking criteria, of which there are three main priorities (1) the viability of the agricultural land; (2) the degree of development pressure on the land; and (3) the potential of the land to act as a buffer to significant natural resources.

Cayuga County's Selection Process

Because the State's program is so competitive, the Cayuga County Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board (AFPB) has developed a formal process by which the Board evaluates and selects farms to submit to the State to compete for funding once every two years coinciding with the State's funding cycle. The selection process involves a formal pre-application period with a pre-established deadline. Interested farmers and landowners can complete and submit a simplified pre-application to the Cayuga County Department of Planning and Economic Development (County Planning). 

County Planning staff then reviews and scores each pre-application using review criteria adopted by the AFPB. The scored pre-applications are presented by County Planning staff to the AFPB, which then selects the farms to advance to the next level. The AFPB's selected farms and copies of their pre-applications will then be sent to one or more of the Land Trusts in our area, who will then determine which farms to partner with to submit a formal application to the State.

Important Information & Documents

Below are some important links for anyone looking to apply for NYSDAM PDR funding.

Developing Strong Partnerships

Cayuga County's success has been made possible by developing strong partnerships with our farming communities, land trusts such as the American Farmland Trust and the New York Agricultural Land Trust, and our funding partners - NYSDAM and the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). NRCS offers federal matching funds through the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program.

Useful Links

Below are some additional useful links for anyone looking to protect farmland in Cayuga County

Frequently Asked Questions and Map of Protected Land in Cayuga County

Cayuga County Soil and Water Conservation District

Land Trusts

New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets (NYSDAM)

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS)