Erie County, New York
Agricultural and
Farmland Protection Plan
Prepared by the Erie County
Department of Environment and
Planning in conjunction with the
Erie County Agricultural and
Farmland Protection Board
With assistance from
Erie County Agricultural and
Farmland Protection Plan
October 24, 2012
Prepared by the Erie County Department of Environment
and Planning in conjunction with the Erie County
Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board
with assistance from:
Acknowledgements
The Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan was funded by a Planning Grant
from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, and the Federal Department of
Housing and Urban Development through the Erie County Community Development Block
Grant Program. Thank you to the following individuals and groups for input and assistance in
the planning process:
Erie County
Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board:
Brett Kreher
Earl Gingerich, Jr.
Hon. Terrence McCracken
Mark Gaston
Deb Roberts
Diane Held
Bryant Zilke
Daniel Henry
Bruce Luno
Jason Engel
Don Spoth
Thomas Dearing
Mark Poloncarz, Erie County Executive
Erie County Legislature:
District #1 Hon. Timothy R. Hogues
District #2 Hon. Betty Jean Grant, Chair
District #3 Hon. Lynn M. Marinelli
District #4 Hon. Kevin R. Hardwick
District #5 Hon. Thomas A. Loughran
District #6 Hon. Edward A. Rath, III
District #7 Hon. Thomas J. Mazur, Majority Leader
District #8 Hon. Terrence D. McCracken
District #9 Hon. Lynne M. Dixon
District #10 Hon. Joseph C. Lorigo
District #11 Hon. John J. Mills, Minority Leader
Department of Environment and Planning:
Maria Whyte, Commissioner
Tom Dearing, Deputy Commissioner
Mark Rountree, Planner
Rachel Chrostowski, Planner
Dale Morris, Director of Geographic Information Services
Interviewees:
Carmen Vacco, Vacco Farms
Carolyn and Marty Rosiek, MCR Farm
Dan Gerhardt, GC Acres
Hans Kunze, Steuben Trust
John Cappelino, Erie County IDA
Carolyn Powell, Buffalo Niagara Enterprise
Tim Harner, Upstate Milk Cooperative
Jodi Smith, Upstate Milk Cooperative
Norb and Lynn Gabel, Gabel’s Maple Syrup
Kevin Komendat, Wegmans Markets
Paul Zittel, Eden Valley Growers
George and Pat Castle, Castle Farms
Jerry Mammoser, Mammoser Farms
Bill Holmes, dairy farm
David Phillips, Phillips Family Farm
Marty Wendel, Wendel’s Poultry Farm
Bob and Jason Engel, Shamel Milling
Lloyd Lamb, Lamb and Webster
Southtowns Community Enhancement Coalition
Ryan and Liz Donovan, Sweet Harvest Farm
Wayne and Gerald Aldinger, Aldinger’s Farm
Ginny Wolski, horse farm
Others:
David Haight, New York State Director, American Farmland Trust
Diane Held, Senior New York Field Manager, American Farmland Trust
Tammey Holtby, New York Operations Coordinator, American Farmland Trust
Doris Mittasch, Program Manager, American Farmland Trust
Sarah Risley, New York Intern, American Famland Trust
Holly Rippon-Butler, New York Intern, American Farmland Trust
Barbara Johnston, Senior Planner, Stuart Brown Associates, Inc.
Phil Gottwals, Principal, Agricultural and Community Development Services, LLC
John Whitney, District Conservationist, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
Department of Agriculture and Markets, State of New York
University of Buffalo, Department of Urban and Regional Planning Students and Faculty:
Taylor Hawes, Jonathan Falk, Naoka Takahashi, Tamara Wright, Brian Conley, Jonathan
Falk, Taylor Hawes, Yoon Hee Jung, Gun Hyoung Kim, Tony Maggiotto Jr., Naoka
Takahashi, Tamara Wright, Dr. Samina Raja
Citizens of Erie County
Photographs taken by Diane Held and Marty Yagle
Table of Contents
Section I: Executive Summary.....................................................................................1
Section II: Introduction .................................................................................................7
Section III: Analysis of Local Conditions.......................................................................9
Section IV: Public Participation....................................................................................15
Section V: Recommendations from Relevant Agricultural Planning Documents
in Erie County............................................................................................22
Section VI: Planning for Agriculture in Erie County....................................................26
Map 1 - Land in Erie County Agricultural Districts
Map 2 - Agricultural Parcels and Cropland Coverage
Map 3 - Agricultural Soils Rating
Map 4 - Natural Resources Rating
Map 5 - Natural Resources Rating Features
Map 6 - Proximity to Protected Land
Map 7 - Framework for Regional Growth Policy Areas
Map 8 - Clusters of Parcels with High Agricultural Soils Values
Section VII: Strategies, Goals, Actions..........................................................................47
Implementation Matrix
Section VIII: Appendix ...................................................................................................64
Endnotes
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 1
Executive Summary
Too often the production of our food is taken for granted – a process that happens somewhere,
somehow, by someone. But food is essential to our very survival. In Erie County we are
fortunate to have diverse, productive, vital farms near a sizable population. We have prime soils,
a climate moderated by a large body of water, and farmers with years of experience as well as
new farmers eager to take on the challenge of growing food. And in recent years, an emerging
interest in local farms and local foods has boosted agriculture’s visibility as an economic driver
creating new opportunities for farmers in both rural and urban areas of the County. As we look
ahead to a rapidly increasing world population with limited additional arable land, we can be
grateful for the resources we have in our backyard and take seriously our responsibility to use,
care for, and protect those resources to the best of our collective abilities.
In 2010 Erie County embarked on a process to develop a new
Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan to guide County
efforts to support local farms and protect farmland. The New
York State Department of Agriculture and Markets and the
Erie County Community Development Block Grant program
provided key funding for the project, and the Erie County
Department of Environment and Planning led the local effort
to gather and assess public input with guidance from the Erie
County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board.
American Farmland Trust, assisted by Agricultural and
Community Development Services, and Stuart I. Brown
Associates were the hired consultants who facilitated the
public process, developed maps, assembled information, and
compiled the written Plan.
The result of this almost two year process is an Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan
intended to direct Erie County’s agricultural planning for the next decade. The Plan provides a
picture of agriculture as it is today, and outlines the loss of farmland over the last few decades.
There were substantial opportunities for public input as the Plan was developed – in total eight
public meetings were offered, and recommended actions from the Plan, and later the entire Plan,
were viewable on the County website.
Public support for agriculture and for the planning process was strong. While agriculture has
many challenges – during this 20-month planning timeframe county farms experienced very
damaging frosts and a significant drought – farmers and consumers alike see opportunities in
Erie County to improve farm profitability and connect farms with the consuming public by
addressing interest in local farms and local food.
Included in the Plan are:
an analysis of agriculture and development pressure in the County,
summaries of the various public meetings and individual interviews that were conducted
as part of the process,
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 2
summaries of other planning documents specific to agriculture that are currently being
used in the County,
information about the “tools in the toolbox” that Erie County does, and can, use to
support farms and protect farmland,
and, a set of strategies with goals and recommended actions for implementation.
Erie County lost substantial farmland since the early 1970s when the population of the county
peaked. Sprawling development pushed out from the City of Buffalo – first into the inner ring
suburbs, and in the past decade or two, into the second ring suburbs. Agriculture continues to be
a significant contributor to the County economy, providing $117 million in agricultural sales in
2007, but much of the farmland is now located in an outer ring of land adjacent to neighboring
agricultural counties: Niagara, Genesee, Wyoming, Cattaraugus, and Chautauqua.
The eight public meetings held throughout the planning process and twenty one interviews of
farmers, agribusiness owners, and economic development staff elicited input about the strengths,
opportunities, weaknesses, and threats to agriculture in the County. While there were challenges
to farm viability shared during this process, the defining tone was one of opportunity –
opportunities to strengthen agricultural markets, to bring new consumers to local agriculture, to
improve agricultural land use planning, to encourage a next generation to farm and to work on
farms.
The Erie Niagara Framework for Regional Growth and the municipal Agricultural and Farmland
Protection Plans for the Towns of Brant, Evans, and North Collins jointly, along with Eden and
Clarence separately, build on each other and share many common goals and recommendations
including using a variety of tools to slow conversion of farmland to other uses and to improve
farm profitability. Planning for agriculture in the County is happening in some areas. The
County Plan supports these current town Plans and provides opportunities to support other towns
in Erie County. A study done by the University of Buffalo Department of Urban and Regional
Planning students, “Room at the Table,” informed food system discussions during development
of the Plan. Eight maps produced as part of the planning process will be used to guide
agricultural planning efforts by the Department of Environment and Planning, including
upcoming phases of the Erie Niagara Framework for Regional Growth.
In addition to these formal agricultural plans, other efforts to protect farmland and support farms
have occurred throughout the County. Over 3,000 acres of farmland in the County is
permanently protected with agricultural conservation easements held by local land trusts,
allowing farming but no development on the land. A few towns also offer term easements that
reduce property taxes in exchange for a term conservation easement to limit development on the
land. Erie County has the tenth highest number of acres in state-certified, county-approved
agricultural districts among the state’s 62 counties – no small feat for an urban county. And 23
of the 25 towns in the county adopted Right to Farm Laws. Lastly, a group of Southtowns
municipalities established an agritourism trail that is continuing to expand and develop.
Focusing on agricultural economic development holds significant promise for Erie County farms,
particularly with regard to direct marketing opportunities. While efforts have been small and
dispersed throughout the county, opportunities abound to improve farm viability and profitability
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 3
with coordinated economic development efforts. Direct marketing of local farm products to City
of Buffalo and suburban consumers is growing but untapped markets exist.
The final section of the Plan outlines two main
strategies with specific goals and actions for
implementation. This is the culmination of the
planning process designed to address
agriculture’s challenges and opportunities as
documented through the public process. The
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland
Protection Board, with guidance from the
Department of Environment and Planning,
reviewed public input and drafted the
strategies, goals, and actions. The final step
will be implementing the actions documented
here. A general timeline for addressing various
actions is incorporated into this section.
Strategy I: Keep land in agricultural production by protecting farmland, helping a new
generation to farm, and improving the viability of all farms in the County.
Goal A: Retain 95% of the 149,356 acres in the county in agricultural production as
reported by the 2007 USDA Census of Agriculture.
Priority Action to protect farmland and stabilize the land base:
Determine the feasibility of developing an Erie County purchase of development rights
program.
Support Actions to protect farmland and stabilize the land base:
Support the state-certified agricultural district program with right-to-farm provisions.
Collect agricultural assessment data by town in order to inform agricultural planning
efforts.
Assist towns that wish to adopt term and/or permanent easement programs.
Develop a ditch maintenance program which supports preservation of prime agricultural
land.
Goal B: Retain 95% of the 1215 farms in the county as reported by the USDA 2007
Census of Agriculture. (Note: The Census of Agriculture defines a farm as
producing and selling $1,000 of agricultural products in a year.)
Priority Action to help a next generation to become established on new and existing farms
through training programs, promotion, education, and incentives:
Determine the feasibility of developing a community college agricultural training
program for workforce development.
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 4
Support Actions to help a next generation become established on new and existing farms
through training programs, promotion, education, and incentives:
Research and develop programs that will help to build an educated and trained workforce
for local farms by:
o encouraging BOCES to include agricultural workforce training;
o developing a formal county apprenticeship and internship program;
o researching the institution of a farm workforce development program that
could benefit new immigrant populations and farms;
o supporting all youth agriculture programs;
o and, encouraging agriculture programs in city, suburban, and rural school
districts.
Urban agriculture:
o Support Buffalo’s Green Code zoning update in order to expand urban farming
opportunities.
New farmers:
o Determine the feasibility of developing a property tax abatement program for new
farmers.
o Promote western New York as a place to farm.
o Promote existing training programs that are targeted to small and beginning
farmers.
Goal C: Establish five new agricultural programs (from the list below or others) that can
improve the viability of farms in Erie County.
Priority Action to improve farm viability and increase investment in agricultural economic
development projects:
Incorporate agritourism into countywide tourism efforts.
Support Actions to improve farm viability and increase investment in agricultural economic
development projects:
Establish a shovel-ready Agribusiness Park in the county to attract food and agricultural
processing businesses.
Capital:
o Create an IDA Agricultural Specialist position.
Aggregation and Distribution:
o Research the feasibility of creating a food hub in the region for farm
product aggregation and distribution.
o Identify a coordinating agency to issue a request for proposals to provide
aggregation and distribution services.
o
Research development of an innovation center for the western New York
region
Marketing:
o Develop a county program to help farmers market their agricultural
products and to assist with identifying new market opportunities.
o Develop a regional agricultural brand.
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 5
Strategy II Inform the public, local leaders, and elected officials about the benefits that
agriculture provides and support policy and legislative changes that will
improve farm viability.
Goal A: Fifty percent of the towns in Erie County will document the importance of
agriculture to the local community either in their comprehensive plan or through
other local planning efforts.
Priority Actions to educate local leaders and elected officials about the benefits that farms
provide to local economies and to the quality of life of county residents:
Erie County will calculate the value of agriculture to the local and regional economy as
part of a complete economic analysis of agriculture and its multiplier effects.
Erie County Dept. of Environment and Planning will offer regular trainings for local
leaders and volunteers.
Support Actions to educate local leaders and elected officials about the benefits that farms
provide to local economies and to the quality of life of county residents:
Periodically host farm tours for local officials and leaders.
Encourage towns to use Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) to expand regional
planning for agriculture.
Goal B: Twenty percent of food products purchased by county institutions will come from
local and regional farmers.
Priority Action to support policies that will help farms to provide affordable, local food to
county residents:
Develop a county Food Policy Council that includes a formal role for the Agriculture and
Farmland Protection Board.
Support Actions to support policies that will help farms to provide affordable, local food to
county residents:
Work with the Food Policy Council to develop a local food procurement policy for
county institutions.
Promote local food purchasing by schools.
Promote farmers markets in the city and county to attract more people to existing
markets.
Goal C: Establish an annual county-wide, agricultural event.
Priority Action to educate and inform the public about farms and food production:
Celebrate Erie County farms with a county-wide agricultural event for the general public.
Support Actions to educate and inform the public about farms and food production:
Work with the Erie County Agricultural Society to promote the Farm2Table school
program.
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 6
Provide support for Erie County Farm Bureau’s efforts to encourage Agriculture in the
Classroom.
Goal D: Implement at least four new public policies, or support ongoing policies, that
protect farmland and support the viability of farms in Erie County.
Priority Action to support partner agricultural organizations, such as Farm Bureau, American
Farmland Trust, and others, with advocacy efforts that focus on:
Adequate county funding for Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Soil and Water
Conservation District.
Support Actions to support partner agricultural organizations, such as Farm Bureau,
American Farmland Trust, and others, with advocacy efforts that focus on:
Increasing the penalty for termination of agricultural assessment.
Regional planning, especially between Erie and Niagara Counties.
Identifying, drafting when appropriate, and advocating for county, state, and federal
agricultural policy and legislative changes.
General Priority Actions:
At five-year intervals, formally review progress in implementing the Agricultural and
Farmland Protection Plan.
Develop an interactive, web based application of the Erie County Agricultural and
Farmland Protection Plan.
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 7
Introduction
In 2010, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets awarded an agricultural
planning grant to Erie County. This grant enabled the creation of a new Agricultural and
Farmland Protection Plan through a public process led by the county Department of Environment
and Planning and the county Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board. This document
provides a snapshot of agriculture in 2012, and identifies actions for the county and others to act
upon in order to protect farmland, support the viability of farms, and boost economic
development in the next decade.
Erie County’s first Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan (AFPP) was developed in 1996.
While much in the world has changed in the past 16 years, there is also plenty that has stayed the
same. Consider a sample of the topics of concern and interest that were generated by the county
Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board over 16 years ago:
The decreasing farmer share of the consumer food dollar due to:
o consumer expectation of low food prices,
o disproportionate marketing, packaging, and middleman cuts,
o off-season and outside market competition.
Local marketing problems:
o lack of specific markets and outlets,
o dated brokering system,
o lack of maintenance of food terminal in the City of Buffalo,
o mixed messages from major grocer operations.
Local farm trends:
o aging farm population,
o increasing education levels required for success,
o shortage of workers with farm experience, lifestyle competitions.
Temptations and pressure exerted on farmers and agricultural landowners from
unsolicited speculators, developers, and realtors interested in purchasing farms and farm
parcels.
Environmental regulatory pressures will continue to increase in the foreseeable future;
compliance costs are high and financial assistance for environmental compliance is
scarce.
Federal and state labor laws are greatly increasing hired labor costs; compliance is
complicated and time consuming.
There are a number of municipal ordinances which are counterproductive to right-to-
farm laws and agricultural activities in the County. A number of these ordinances list
agriculture as a permitted use with a host of other developments within the same zoning
district.
Excerpt from Farms for the Future
Many of these issues are mentioned today when local farmers are asked to identify areas of need
for agriculture. But there has been progress.
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 8
Beginning in 1998 and continuing today, the Towns of Marilla, Amherst, Elma, and Clarence
partnered with the Western New York Land Conservancy to permanently protect over 2,000
acres of farmland by placing agricultural conservation easements on the land to keep it available
in perpetuity for farming. In 1999, Erie County passed a Right-to-Farm Law (located in the
Appendix) and later, the county Farm Bureau undertook an effort to encourage adoption of
municipal right-to-farm laws in every town in the county. To date, 23 of 25 towns have these
laws in place. The towns of Brant, Evans, and North Collins jointly, and Eden and Clarence
separately, developed Municipal Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plans (Marilla is in the
process of doing so). In 1992, 145,679 acres in the county were actively farmed
1
and 235,000
acres were in state-approved, county-adopted agricultural districts.
2
In 2007, 149,356 acres were
actively farmed
3
and 258,689 acres were in state-approved, county-adopted agricultural
districts.
4
A resurgence of interest in farms and local food has also changed the nature of agricultural
planning since the last county AFPP was developed. No longer is farming viewed as just a rural
business. Now many cities, including Buffalo, have urban farms. Sixteen farmers’ markets in
the county offer local farm produce to city, suburban, and rural consumers who are eager to have
access to farm products grown nearby. More restaurants and institutions are buying produce
directly from farmers. And growing recognition of the value of agriculture to local economies
and the state economy has changed the nature of discussions about economic development.
Agriculture has a seat on Governor Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council with the
hope that funding for agricultural projects in the region will follow.
So why develop this plan? While there are bright
spots in county agriculture, there are also unmet
needs. Supporting farm business viability and
protecting the land base needed to farm provides a
host of benefits. Farms contribute to the local
economy – in 2007 the market value of
agricultural products sold in Erie County was over
$117 million.
5
Farms also provide jobs, use less
in services than they pay in property taxes,
maintain wildlife habitat and water quality when
well managed, create beautiful scenic vistas,
highlight the cultural heritage of many rural areas
in the county, and offer fresh, local food to county
residents. But farming can fall prey to the variability of markets and weather, regulations, and
low profit margins, all of which may contribute to a decision to sell the farm for development.
Strengthening land tenure, improving profitability, and building support among consumers and
elected officials will ensure that agriculture remains viable in Erie County, and contributes to the
well being of all county residents. This plan is intended to guide efforts to that end.
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 9
Analysis of Local Conditions
Agriculture in Erie County
Erie County is an urban county – close to one third of the county population resides in the City
of Buffalo – but also has a substantial agricultural base. This is not unusual, given that farms
have historically been located within easy access of population centers. Today, because of the
steady push outward from cities, 70% of the vegetables, fruit, milk, and eggs in the United States
are grown in urban-edge areas like Erie County.
Value of Agriculture to the County Economy and Open Space Value
Farms in the county are diverse and include: dairy, vegetable, greenhouse, fruit, cash crops,
horse, maple syrup, poultry, a variety of livestock, Christmas tree, and aquaculture. Table 1
highlights farm sales by grouping. Dairy farm sales top the list with nursery and greenhouse
sales second, and vegetables third. In total, Erie County farm sales were just over $117 million
in 2007.
Table 1: Farm Sales, Erie County
$1,000
% of
Total
Livestock & poultry* 75,404 64.43
Milk & dairy 51,451 43.96
Cattle & calves 6,302 5.38
Other animals & products 968 0.83
Hogs & Pigs 210 0.18
Sheep, goats & products 84 0.07
Aquaculture 23 0.02
Crops, including
nursery & greenhouse* 41,627 35.57
Nursery, greenhouse,
floriculture & sod 17,690 15.12
Vegetables & melons 9,590 8.19
Fruits, tree nuts & berries 6,317 5.40
grains, seeds, dry beans
& dry peas 5,322 4.55
Corn 3,434 2.93
Total Sales*
117,031 100.00
Products sold directly
to individuals
1,703 1.46
Source: 2007 Census of Agriculture (adapted from report: Room At the Table)
*due to data suppression, not all sales figures are represented
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 10
The 2007 Census of Agriculture reported that Erie County had 1,215 farms with 149,356 acres in
production covering 22% of the county’s land base. The number of farms decreased by 6% from
2002 to 2007 (although Erie County has ranked consistently in the top five counties with the
highest number of farms in the state), and there was an 8% loss of farmland in the county (Table
2).
Most of the farms in Erie County are small – 62% of the farms grossed less than $10,000, and
almost half of the farms work less than 50 acres. All of these farms as a group contribute
substantially to the county economy and agricultural landscape. But if just a few of the larger
farms are lost to development, there is a considerable impact too: 38 farms in the county worked
500-999 acres; 16 farms worked 1,000 acres or more; and 49 farms grossed $500,000 or more
(Table 2 and Chart 1).
Table 2: Agricultural Statistics, Erie County
Source: 2002 and 2007 Census of Agriculture
2002 2007
Percent
Change
2002-2007
# of Farms
1,289 1,215 -6%
Land in Farms (acres)
161,747 149,356 -8%
Market Value of Products Sold
(average per farm)
$71,654 $96,322 34%
# of Farms by Value of Sales
less than $10,000 828 756 -9%
$10,000- $99,999 298 271 -9%
$100,000-$499,999 127 139 9%
$500,000 or more 36 49 36%
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 11
Chart 1: Farms by Size, Erie County
Source: 2007 Census of Agriculture
0
100
200
300
400
500
1-9 10-49 50-179 180-499 500-999 1,000+
Acres/Farm
Farms
Conversion Pressure and Consequences
Decades of a spreading, sprawling population leaving the City of Buffalo and moving to the
suburbs has had a profound effect on the agricultural landscape of Erie County. At one time,
numerous farms were within easy reach of the city of Buffalo, located in what are now the inner
ring towns of Amherst, West Seneca, Cheektowaga, and Tonawanda. As the population of the
County grew, and moved out from the city, these farms were in the direct path of development
and these towns now have few to no farms remaining. The second ring towns of Lancaster,
Clarence, Elma, Hamburg, and Orchard Park were once active farming towns but the lure of
open space with tracts of developable land also made them appealing as residential communities.
Much of the land converted to housing in these towns was once farmland.
In the 2003 Brookings Institute report, Sprawl Without Growth: The Upstate Paradox, Cornell
University’s Dr. Rolf Pendall reported that urbanized land in upstate New York, including Erie
County, increased by 30 % in the 15 years from 1982 to 1997 but the population only grew by
2.6 % in that same time period.
6
Even in the most recent decade from 2000 to 2010, which
includes a significant recession and decrease in home building, the housing density in the second
ring towns increased at a faster rate than the growth in population (Chart 1). The Town of
Orchard Park’s population grew by 5.1 % while the housing density increased by 10.9 % the
Town of Hamburg had a population increase of 1.2 % and a housing density increase of 6.6 %,
and the Town of Elma saw no growth in population yet housing density increased by 6.5 %.
Notably, the City of Buffalo had a 10.7 % drop in population while the Towns of Clarence,
Lancaster, and Orchard Park all added residents. These statistics can indicate development
patterns that equate to sprawl without growth.
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 12
Table 3: Population and Housing Changes, Erie County
Source: 2000 and 2010 U.S. Census
County/Town Population
Population
% Change
Housing
Density %
Change
Housing Density
(occupied houses
per square mile)
Erie
2010 919,040 -3.30% 0.60% 367.48
2000 950,265 365.28
City of Buffalo
2010 261,310 -10.70% -8.30% 2,771.82
2000 292,648 3,022.66
Hamburg
2010 56,936 1.20% 6.60% 567.72
2000 56,259 532.66
Clarence
2010 30,673 17.40% 23.20% 211.27
2000 26,123 171.42
Lancaster
2010 41,604 6.60% 10.00% 438.07
2000 39,019 398.23
Elma
2010 11,317 0.00% 6.50% 129.28
2000 11,304 121.33
Orchard Park
2010 29,054 5.10% 10.90% 296.05
2000 27,637 266.94
Too often farmers are faced with the choice to keep land in agricultural production or to sell it
for development. When agriculture is not profitable, farmland is at risk of being sold and
converted to other uses. Farmland conversion may occur when an entire farm is sold, or when a
farmer chooses to sell lots in order to raise needed cash. This is not a sustainable method to
remain in business but may fill a temporary need. Selling a portion of a farm’s land can be
accompanied by unwanted long term consequences. New neighbors arrive, who may not be well
versed in what to expect when living near a farm, and the potential for farmer-neighbor conflicts
grows substantially under these circumstances. Road frontage is sold first leaving back fields
that can be hard to access with large farm equipment. Land values rise, making it difficult for
remaining farmers or new farmers to afford to purchase farmland in the area. And, the ‘swiss
cheese’ effect of smaller, separated farm fields creates farm management challenges.
While farmland owned by working farms in Erie County is susceptible to conversion due to
sprawling development, farmland owned by rental landowners is at even greater risk. Generally,
a non-farm landowner does not have a farmer’s motivation to keep land in agricultural use.
According to the 2007 Census of Agriculture, 31 % of the farmland in Erie County is rented,
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 13
totaling approximately 46,000 acres. This is the least stable farmland and most at risk of
conversion.
As noted in the Introduction, land in agricultural production increased in the County from 1992
to 2007, but that does not fully represent the trend. Graph 1 depicts the trend in farmland acres
from 1969 to 2007.
Chart 2: Farmland Acres, Erie County
0
50,000
100,000
150,000
200,000
250,000
1969 1974 1978 1982 1987 1992 1997 2002 2007
Census Year
Farmland Acres
Farmland steadily decreased in the County from 1969 until 1992 after which there was an
upward trend for the next decade. But from 2002 to 2007, the land in farms dropped
significantly by 8 %, nearing the 1992 lowest documented level. This is cause for concern and
warrants a focus on protecting the remaining farmland in the County.
Changes in Erie County Agriculture
Protecting farmland becomes open space protection without farmers and farm businesses to work
the land. The number of farms in the County peaked in 2002 at 1,289 dropping to 1,215 in 2007,
according to the Census of Agriculture, but Erie County remains in the top handful of counties
statewide for number of farms. It has been well reported that the farmer population in this
country is aging and statistics for Erie County reflect that. The need for a next generation to farm
in the County is apparent when considering Census of Agriculture reported data: the number of
farmers under the age of 35 in the County in 1997 was 101 and in 2007 was 52, while the
number of farmers over the age of 65 in 1997 was 254 and in 2007 was 372. Spreading to
western New York from other areas of the country and the state, like the Hudson Valley, is a
growing interest in farming as a career among young people and also as a second career among
retirees. Encouraging this interest can provide the County with new farms and farmers to work
the land and grow food, and to enhance the well established farms that comprise the backbone of
Erie County agriculture.
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 14
With this renewed interest in farming comes different ways to farm and to market farm products.
While many Erie County farms market agricultural products through wholesale avenues, more
farms are choosing to sell some or all of their farm products directly to the consumer. Sixteen
farmers’ markets operate in the county, with new markets added each year. Local companies
have established some of these markets for their employees’ shopping convenience and to
encourage healthy food purchases. There are now at least four Community Supported
Agriculture (CSA)* farms in the county and additional CSAs located outside county borders,
with members in Erie County. Additionally, a few farms in the County market directly to school
food service directors and restaurant chefs.
*Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm: Farm owners sell member shares prior to the growing season.
Members receive an allotment of vegetables, fruit, eggs, meat, milk, cheese or any combination of those, each week
during the season. Because members purchase shares up front, farmers have capital to invest for the growing season
and everyone, the farmer and the members, shares in the risks that can affect crop yields – such as weather and
pests. In part because the investment needed to begin a CSA can be significantly less than other types of farms, this
is a popular model for beginning farmers.
Urban agriculture has also taken root in the City of Buffalo: from the Massachusetts Avenue
Project (MAP), where youth are growing, marketing and distributing produce on the west side; to
Queen City Farms, a three-acre farm growing and distributing locally grown food to families in
need; to the Community Action Organization’s Green Entrepreneurial Center, where food and
jobs are grown; to Wilson Street Farm, a family-run operation on over forty vacant lots providing
fresh, local produce to east side residents. These urban farms not only provide local food to city
residents, but they also connect the consumer and the farmer, and help to create an appreciation
for where food comes from.
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 15
Public Participation
The process for developing an Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan is guided by statute in
Article 25 AAA, Section 324 of the New York State Agriculture and Markets Law. It is a public
process and as such Erie County held an initial public meeting (attended by 56 people) to explain
the planning process and to gather input for a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities,
Threats) analysis. Twenty one individual interviews of farmers, agribusiness owners, and
economic development personnel provided direct input into the Plan. Six focus group meetings
held in various locations of the County (attended by over 100 people and held twice in the City
of Buffalo, and once in each of the Towns of Eden, Alden, Newstead, and Concord), captured
public input on key questions posed to a cross section of County residents. Input and ideas from
farmers, landowners, urban and rural residents, organizations, and elected leaders were critical to
this planning process. Opportunities for comments on the written Plan included online posting of
the draft strategies, followed by online posting of the entire Plan with a 30-day comment period
culminating in a public hearing.
Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats (SWOT) Analysis
To begin the process of developing an Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan for Erie
County, an initial public meeting was held. At that meeting, attendees shared their thoughts
about the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to agriculture in the county. This list
was a starting point for the Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board to assess Erie County’s
agricultural needs. The strategies and actions listed later in this Plan directly address the needs
that were generated through public input identified here and in later sections. The complete
SWOT chart is available in the appendix. Following is a summary of the SWOT analysis.
Strengths
The tie to local food production in Erie County is visible. With many small, direct market farms,
consumers have a variety of options to purchase farm products from the farmer. Agritourism
venues can be found throughout the county as well, and offer opportunities for the public to
connect directly to local farms. Planning efforts that promote the many benefits provided by
farms help bolster farm viability. Education offerings from Cornell Cooperative Extension, ease
of farm product transportation, and availability of business capital round out identified strengths
of Erie County agriculture.
Weaknesses
In general, children, consumers, and local officials lack a complete understanding of agriculture
and the numerous ways that farms positively affect quality of life and the economic strength of
the communities in which we live. Policies in both rural and urban locales often do not
adequately address the needs of farming as a land and business use. Poor food choices and the
perception that low cost is best are key factors in what farm and food products are purchased and
from whom. Farmers in general, and beginning farmers in particular, often struggle with debt
management, as well as marketing and distribution needs.
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 16
Opportunities
In this SWOT process, participants were extremely positive about the opportunities available to
grow, support, and build a strong, vibrant farming economy in the County. There were vastly
more comments in the ‘opportunities’ section of the SWOT chart than in any of the other three
sections.
Expanding local food purchases and consumption were cited in a variety of ways. This was
considered a win-win for the consumer and the farmer. Building marketing and promotion
efforts for farm products from Erie County and Western New York is key to making this happen.
Developing a workforce for farms through apprenticeships and internships as well as more
traditional educational avenues was mentioned frequently along with attracting and training new
populations to work on farms. Keeping land in agriculture with tax incentives and farm friendly
land use policies, and increasing renewable energy production led to discussion of opportunities
to focus economic development efforts on agriculture. Attracting new food processors, growing
agritourism, and assisting farmers with grant and loan applications can boost farm viability.
Instituting food policies that promote local food purchasing and consumption, and developing
aggregation and distribution processes to better connect farmers with institutional buyers will
also help keep farms in business. Opportunities to farm in the City of Buffalo are blossoming
and Erie County is beginning to attract new farmers - people new to farming who are choosing
western New York as the location for their farm business. Promoting this area as a place to farm
and clearly outlining the economic benefits to having farms in local communities will help local
leaders make decisions that support farm viability and by extension improve their communities
and respond to growing interest in availability of local foods.
Threats
Viability is the overarching threat to farms and most of the remaining threats fit somewhere
beneath that: sprawling development and poor planning that consume prime farmland;
regulations and restrictions that make it difficult and expensive to operate a farm business; and
the need for a next generation to operate existing farms, start new farms, and provide a
workforce for local farms. Funding to address these threats and concerns is difficult to attract,
particularly because the benefits that communities reap by having farms located nearby are not
well publicized or understood.
Focus Group Sessions
Six focus group sessions, open to the public, were held throughout the planning process. In the
first three sessions, participants were asked to share their thoughts about the opportunities and
barriers for agriculture in Erie County as well as what issues were most significant for food and
farming in the county. The second set of meetings elicited input from attendees on topics related
to a draft set of recommendations being considered by the Agricultural and Farmland Protection
Board. The compiled notes from these sessions are available in the Appendix.
Questions posed to attendees and their responses fell into six main areas for action: protecting
farmland, encouraging a next generation to farm, supporting farm viability, increasing the
availability of local food, educating leaders, and educating the public. The main themes and
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 17
Healthy Kids, Healthy
Communities youth
representatives from the
Massachusetts Avenue Project
(MAP) participated in the
November 2011 focus group
session in Buffalo. Following are
their responses to specific
questions posed to them about
their involvement in the
MAP farm:
What do you like about farming?
What is great about being on a farm?
“You can eat good food on the farm”
“Food tastes different than the food at
the stores, food tastes better”
“I like the chicken on the farms, it
tastes really good”
“I can make money on the farm”
“I like playing in the dirt”
“You can learn as you go”
“It’s a better job than one my friends
do, a lot of my friends work at
McDonalds, and their food is nasty
“McDonalds is not real”
“The farm is real, I know where my
food comes from”
“You know where your food comes
from”
“I feel like I have a real connection to
the land”
“I get a country experience”
“It’s like a new community, doing this
with my friends”
What do your friends think about
you working on a farm?
“Some of them think it’s weird, I say
farm and they’re like there are not any
farms in Buffalo”
“When I say it’s my job, they don’t
really think it’s a job”
comments mirror the themes captured in the SWOT analysis and are
incorporated into the strategies and actions of the Plan.
Individual Interviews
Twenty one farmers, agribusiness owners, and government and
agency representatives were interviewed in the summer and fall of
2011. Interviewees were asked to share suggestions of how the
county could support agriculture, as well as to give input on current
challenges and opportunities for local farms. As a group, the
interviewees were positive about the future for agriculture in the
county but there were also areas of concern.
Summary of General Interview Highlights
Regulations of all types – environmental, labor, food safety, and
transportation – were by far the most mentioned challenges to
agriculture and were mentioned by all categories of interviewees.
The shared sentiment was that current regulations are burdensome
for farmers and that continuing to add new regulations will
negatively affect farm profitability. Specific regulatory areas
mentioned included Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), federal
immigration policy, over-the-road equipment size restrictions, North
American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), tort reform, nutrient
management, and wetlands. Trainings to help farmers understand
and address regulations would be useful particularly for smaller
farms. Larger farms identified regulatory relief as pertinent to their
ability to continue in business. High taxes were also cited as a
burden for farms. There was interest in establishing a program to
further reduce property taxes on agricultural land.
“Regulations are too oppressive and expensive.”
Educating a variety of audiences was identified as a need almost as
frequently as regulatory relief. Helping the public understand
agricultural practices and the production of food was considered
essential to growing an informed consumer base for local farms and
essential for the long term success of agriculture in Erie County.
Opportunities to educate local officials and farmers on agricultural
topics pertinent to each audience were mentioned as another
educational avenue. Farmers could benefit from trainings on farm
management, technology, and neighbor relations. Cornell
Cooperative Extension (CCE) was identified as an existing entity
charged with educating both the public and farmers. Providing
adequate county funding for CCE was deemed important in order to
capitalize on an organization that already exists to deliver programs.
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 18
Educating youth, in order to train a next generation of farmers and farm workers, was considered
to be critical. FFA (Future Farmers of America) and 4-H were directly cited as valuable
programs that need to receive more focus in Erie County. Additionally, instituting formal
internship and apprenticeship programs could help to provide the hands-on education needed in
farming.
“Education is key to help people understand where the farmer is coming from.”
“4-H to me is very important – through Cooperative Extension – and it needs funding”
Cultivating a next generation of farm owners and workers is critical to the future of agriculture
locally. While some of the farm interviewees were already incorporating a next generation into
the business, others had not yet identified who would “take over” the farm and this was
mentioned as an area of concern. Assistance with helping a next generation and beginning
farmers with locating land, capital, and/or farms to work into via ‘sweat equity’ was deemed
important. It was pointed out that farms are often multigenerational businesses with a tie to the
land and therefore will remain in their current location – they are not businesses that will readily
move out of state or offshore. It is important for the county to support the business of farming
with that in mind. Related to this was frustration with finding and keeping a local labor force and
the burden of onerous labor regulations. Attracting new populations, the Amish were
specifically mentioned, for a domestic labor force deserves consideration.
“Farm succession is going to be an issue in the next ten years.”
“Farms need to be profitable in order to have a next generation.”
Concern for availability and affordability of farmland was cited as an ongoing challenge for
county farmers. The continued sprawl and spread of the population from the city of Buffalo and
inner ring suburbs has decreased the quantity of available farmland as well as increased the price
of the land that is available. This is a barrier to entry for beginning farmers and creates added
pressure for existing farms that are looking for additional land for crop rotations or expansion.
In a few county locations, competition for land among farms is intense and creates frustration
among the farmers. In other areas with significant development pressure, non-farm landowners
are reluctant to agree to long-term leases with farmers because they wish to maintain the option
to sell the land to the highest bidder. Some of the farmers interviewed chose to purchase
farmland in these areas in order to ‘protect’ the highest quality land from development.
“Some of our best land has gone to houses. Once the ag land is lost, it’s lost.”
“Purchase of development rights could help Erie County a lot.”
Erie County farmers are embracing new business opportunities. Some have adapted their farms
to capitalize on the growing consumer interest in purchasing local foods. Others have diversified
their businesses while a number have specialized and expanded their operations. A few farmers
were looking ahead to opportunities that may come with alternative energy development. And, it
was noted that recognition should be given to the value of having a core group of farms to
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 19
support the variety of agricultural service providers located in the county. The ripple affect when
farms go out of business is often acutely felt in rural areas that also lose these agricultural
support businesses.
“Look at investment as part of doing business because there is too much emphasis on success
just being tied to the number of jobs created.”
Summary of Agricultural Economic Development Interview Highlights
Access to a skilled and ready labor force is key to the future of agriculture and a major concern
for many farmers. Since many laborers are immigrants or new citizens from agrarian
backgrounds, they tend to have a basic understanding of farming. Concerns regarding this labor
force revolve around language and communications, ability to attract and maintain labor given
shifting federal immigration policy, and the development of advanced skills (including
acquisition of driver’s licenses, chemical applicator’s licenses, etc.). Despite a generally high
level of contentment with the labor force, farmers remain concerned that a significant upturn in
the economy will draw down the labor pool as highly mobile, entry-level labor turns to landscape
and building trades, which often pay higher wages.
Market access refers to the ability to reach the real or potential
marketplace for farm or agribusiness products. It assumes a fit
between what is produced and what consumers want to buy, but
it is essentially the system of connections from farmer to
consumer. An area with good market access has a mixture of
market outlets from retail to wholesale and the means to supply
them. Presence of retailers such as Wegmans and Tops does
offer development opportunities.
Erie County is close to large population centers but lacks the
level of integration with retailers and the consuming public that
has been achieved in other large marketplaces. Complicating
this, local consumers tend to favor cheaper food products than
markets in eastern New York and New England, making it
difficult to achieve significantly higher price margins for local
foods across the board.
A weak U.S. dollar is shifting the balance of agricultural trade particularly with Canada and
creating an opportunity for Erie County to serve as an aggregation, processing, and
manufacturing center for export oriented activities into Canada. A weak dollar offers the
opportunity for Erie County to proactively recruit farm, food processing, biotechnology, and
food distribution activities from the nearby Province of Ontario.
Competitiveness in the food industry is often predicated on being a leader in product and market
development. The dairy industry is the most recent agricultural sector to aggressively pursue
product development to grow market share. Given the importance of the dairy industry to the
region, it would be important to support research and development activities as a means to both
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 20
attract new entrants to the manufacturing sector as well as to enhance demand for locally sourced
milk. As a centerpiece of such a strategy, the region may consider the creation of a dairy center
modeled after the Wisconsin Dairy Center.
Generally speaking, credit access is strong across all agricultural production sectors,
particularly for operators with strong credit histories. Where project finance becomes an
impediment is where operators have limited credit history, no management experience, or the
operator is entering into an untested marketplace. In these cases farm operators have difficulty
securing financing or do not understand where/how to access grants and economic development
funds. For limited resource organizations additional needs include grant writing and match
support.
There are many economic development and finance organizations in the region and all seem
supportive of agriculture and food development. However, none of these organizations offer
direct support for agriculture and allied industries nor do they house the necessary expertise to
fully implement a program of work in this field.
Direct market retail and wholesale activities are on the rise both locally and nationally and
anchor local business operations such as Eden Valley Growers. Having marketing and
aggregation facilities in-place also enhances the ability to achieve better market access and a
larger share of the local and/or regional product market. Certain agricultural subsectors, such as
beef and other meat animals, lack a true aggregation and marketing support structure which
forces players in these sectors to seek such activities outside of the area. This limits profit taking
potential and shifts the economic gains from industry development to other areas.
The region, particularly the southern towns, supports agritourism activities. This approach has
been well received by farmers, consumers, and tourism officials and offers room for expansion
and growth. In particular, development of seasonal events, agritourism trails, and creation of
destination venues are all considered viable means to expand tourism and direct market
opportunity.
Summary of Agricultural Economic Development
Interview Recommendations
Interviewees were interested in having the county work
directly with farmers and farm organizations in a
number of capacities:
Expanding microenterprise loan opportunities
and funding.
Marketing and promotion of local agriculture and
local foods.
Marketing training for farmers.
Helping to navigate the IDA process and
assistance with understanding and negotiating a
variety of contracts.
Providing small grants and cost-share funding for
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 21
on-farm projects.
Funding and support for municipal and intermunicipal projects such as agritourism
efforts.
Infrastructure planning and improvements. Working with municipalities to discourage
growth in agricultural areas and to encourage road and ditch maintenance.
Facilitating farmer meetings with state and federal elected officials. For example,
scheduling annual roundtable meetings as was done in the past with Congressman Jack
Quinn.
Celebrating agriculture in the county with a public event.
*Note: All quotes are from interviewees.
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 22
Recommendations from Relevant Agricultural Planning
Documents in Erie County
This Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan (AFPP) has not been developed in a vacuum – it
is connected and has relevance to planning efforts undertaken at other times and other places in
the County. The Erie Niagara Framework for Regional Growth is a regional planning document
that identifies agricultural land use as a key component to consider in regional planning efforts.
The AFPP will inform further phases of work that develop from the Framework for Regional
Growth.
Three town planning documents guide agricultural planning in the County as well. The Towns
of Brant, Evans, and North Collins (jointly) were the first municipalities in the County to
develop a town level agricultural and farmland protection plan, followed by the Town of Eden
and the Town of Clarence. These plans are specific to the towns but mesh well with identified
goals and actions in the County AFPP.
Room at the Table: Food System Assessment of Erie County is a recent report developed by a
group of students in the University of Buffalo Urban and Regional Planning Department as a
graduate degree project and done under the direction of Dr. Samina Raja. The report examines
the County food system from farm fields to waste products and all the steps in between and
concludes with recommendations for improving the system.
Following are summaries of the aforementioned planning documents.
Erie Niagara Framework for Regional Growth
The Erie Niagara Framework for Regional Growth, completed in 2006 by Erie and Niagara
Counties, establishes basic policies and principles to guide the future growth and development of
the region. The Framework delineates Developed Areas, Developing Areas and Rural Areas, as
well as Regional Centers, Growth Corridors and Rural Centers (see map). Polices and strategies
address the goals for these areas.
The conservation of agricultural land is a key policy for the Developing Areas. Relevant
strategies include:
Support local planning that designates areas appropriate for development and
conservation, minimizes conversion of agricultural lands and avoids “leap frog” patterns
of development.
Minimize conversion of significant agricultural lands.
Channel growth to areas with existing sewer and water service.
Where extensions of public sewer and water service are needed to address health issues,
restrict tap-ins for new development in areas designated for agricultural use.
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 23
Strategies for Rural Areas include:
Expand efforts to strengthen the rural economy, including the conservation of agricultural
lands and rural economic development initiatives.
Identify and conserve agricultural lands; support zoning that reduces permitted
development densities, require cluster development to maintain rural character and
protect resources, and discourage continued subdivision of rural road frontages.
Encourage the contraction of sewer district boundaries that extend into areas designated
for agricultural use.
The Framework directs that Erie County’s capital project review policies encourage investments
that support agriculture and open space preservation, and discourage investments that would
hinder agricultural or open space protection. It recommends
that the counties develop Type 1 Action lists pursuant to the
New York State Environmental Quality Review Act
(SEQRA) that include major subdivisions or developments in
Agricultural Districts in Developing or Rural Areas. It
recommends additional scrutiny in Erie County reviews of
subdivisions of three to five or more lots of any size in
unsewered areas. Subdivisions with lots larger than 20-25
acres and soils that are suitable for agricultural production
would be exempt from this review.
The Framework for Regional Growth also states that County
policies regarding sewer and water districts should limit
sewer district expansions in agricultural districts; contract
sewer districts where there is no actual service in agricultural
districts; limit water district expansion in agricultural
districts; and apply strict restrictions to tie-ins where water
districts are extended to address health issues.
Framework for Regional Growth recommended actions to preserve agricultural lands include:
Establish priorities for the conservation of lands that are under development pressure
and have high quality agricultural soils.
Coordinate the activities of Niagara and Erie County Farmland Protection Boards.
Identify priority agricultural lands based on agricultural value.
Establish a Purchase of Development Rights program/ Participate in New York State
and Federal programs.
Increase coordination among agencies active in agriculture and land conservation
Strengthen the economic viability of farms through financial incentives, marketing
assistance, model legislation to support agricultural activities, public education and
technical assistance. Publicize the economic benefits of agriculture to the economy,
in addition to its value for open space protection.
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 24
Prepare model zoning regulations to encourage conservation subdivisions and the
conservation of agricultural lands.
A Regional Farmland Protection Plan for the Towns of Brant, Evans, and North Collins
The Regional Farmland Protection Plan for the Towns of Brant, Evans, and North Collins was
developed in 2000 and includes regional goals and actions. This three-town planning effort
recognized that a regional approach to support farms could have more impact than a town-by-
town planning process. Since development of the plan, a group of nine municipalities in the
southern portion of the county, the Southtowns Community Enhancement Coalition, have
worked together to develop an agritourism trail.
Regional Goal 1: Foster Collaboration
Regional Goal 2: Promote Understanding of Agriculture
Regional Goal 3: Encourage Policies that Protect Productive Farmland
Regional Goal 4: Cultivate a Viable Agricultural Economy
Town of Eden Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan
Eden is a rural farming town located in the Southtowns of Erie County. It is one of Erie
County’s medium sized towns (population) but is a major contributor to the county’s $117
million in agricultural sales. The Town of Eden Agricultural & Farmland Protection Plan,
completed by the Town in 2010, includes an analysis of local conditions, a parcel rating system
to prioritize farmland protection parcels, and recommendations to support agriculture and protect
farmland. The Plan also includes an assessment of its land use regulations and recommends
modifications to improve support for agriculture.
Recommendation 1: Stabilize the town agricultural land base and maintain land in active
agricultural use. Maintain 95 % of the current active agricultural land in
production through the next ten years. Support Eden farmers as stewards
of the land and other natural resources.
Recommendation 2: Maintain a supportive business environment for farm operations.
Recommendation 3: Educate the non-farm public about agriculture. Facilitate an ongoing
dialogue between the farm community and other Eden residents.
Encourage appreciation of the agricultural resources located in the Town.
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 25
Town of Clarence Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan
The Town of Clarence was developing an Agricultural Plan at the same time as Erie County,
with plan approval in 2012. Clarence is located in the northeastern portion of the county and has
had significant residential growth in the last few decades. With a population increase of 17 %
from 2000 to 2010, community commitment to support farms and protect farmland was needed if
farming was to remain in the town. In 2002, a $12.5 million bond was passed by public
referendum to fund the Greenprint Program to permanently protect farmland and open space in
Clarence.
Strategy A: Protect farmland: Sustain no net loss of farmland in the Town of Clarence during
the next decade, from 2012 to 2022. The number of farmland acres in the town in
2012 totaled 4,344.
Strategy B: Plan for infrastructure: Institute infrastructure planning that formally and
routinely considers the needs of agriculture with regard to drainage, roads, utility
lines, water, and sewer in any town zoning districts that allow farms.
Strategy C: Promote agriculture: Inform the public about the variety of contributions farms
make to the town, and what agricultural practices to expect in a farm community.
Include youth and youth agricultural programs in town efforts to promote farms
and agricultural events.
Room at the Table: Food System Assessment of Erie County
This assessment estimated that Erie County’s food system generated $9.9 billion in sales in 2009
and provided 82,000 jobs in the county. Building this system has enormous implications for
everyone in the County. Assessing opportunities to improve the food system resulted in a set of
recommendations summarized in the Appendix.
Plan Goals
1. Ensure economically viable and sustainable
agriculture in Erie County.
2. Promote access to local food in the county.
3. Ensure lasting food security in the county.
4. Promote overall health and wellness of Erie
County residents.
5. Educate the general public about the Erie County
food system.
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 26
Planning for Agriculture in Erie County
County and town planning can have a significant impact on agriculture by strengthening
economic opportunities for farms, protecting farmland, encouraging appreciation for agriculture,
and building support among local leaders. This section describes some of the tools that, when
used to proactively plan for agriculture, help protect valuable farmland and support the viability
of local farms.
Agricultural Economic Development
Agricultural economic development helps keep land in agriculture by encouraging region-wide
economic development activities that support local farm profitability. Agriculture contributes to
communities through job and tax base creation as well as to the farmer and agribusiness industry
through wealth creation. Without economic balance, liquidity, and profitability, agriculture
cannot exist. Understanding that this economic balance must be maintained to keep agriculture in
the community is critical to any agricultural land protection effort.
In Erie County, this balance is even more delicate given the urban nature of the county which
requires a jobs-driven economic development strategy and the transitional requirements of its
rural, agricultural sector as it adapts to changes in agricultural markets. These agriculturally
related transitional requirements have three primary drivers. This first is supporting continued
growth of agricultural entrepreneurship. The second is to provide assistance to intergenerational
land transfer in the face of rising farmland costs. The third is a change in international trade
flows which offer investment and development opportunities across western New York’s food
and agriculture sectors.
Agriculture is a significant economic contributor to Erie County’s rural economy. Because of
this, it is increasingly important to advocate for agriculture’s economic and business
development needs. This is particularly true given the high multiplier effects* (1.54 in output
and 1.8 for employment
7
) associated with agriculture within the County and the region, which
highlight the need to leverage upstream and downstream activities such as crop protection
services and food manufacturing.
*Multiplier effect: Every time there is an addition to employment or sales in an industry it can create a circular flow
in the local economy whereby additional sales and employment are created. This is a multiplier effect. The size of
the multiplier effect depends upon the regional economy’s inter-relationships, or each household’s decisions to
spend or save. When income is spent, this spending becomes someone else’s income, and so on. Households
decisions to spend this income often get allocated outside of the economy and are thus lost for re-circulation. Many
in the economic development world seek to attract and retain companies with high multipliers, in order to maximize
the income, sale, and employment effects that these businesses have on a locality.
Articulating the needs of agriculture in this plan will help to develop Erie County’s agricultural
economy. This is not to say that agriculture is unrepresented in planning documents, as it is
clearly a target industry for Buffalo Niagara Enterprise and has a role in the Western New York
Regional Economic Development Strategic Plan
8
. However, the effect of these plans is limited
by poor implementation due to external influences such as regulatory structure, environmental
management needs, financial conditions, and land-use trends. Having diverse plans that split the
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 27
interests of agriculture and its partners does not serve agriculture
well. A coordinated approach to agricultural economic
development in the county and the region is necessary in order
for the concerted efforts of industry, government, and the
community to have an effect.
It is also important to recognize that the industry’s development
needs do not impact all sectors in the same manner. High
development pressure tends to be good for equine and nursery
farm businesses while it often has direct negative impacts on
livestock and dairy farms. Interviews were conducted across a
range of sectors to understand how local conditions were
influencing economic success. Highlights of expressed concerns
and needs are presented below:
Development pressure, land fragmentation, and competition for land with non-operating uses
put a premium on agricultural land that makes it less profitable to farm and difficult to
expand. As a result, there is direct pressure for farmers – particularly new and expanding
farmers – to grow their operations elsewhere.
For agriculture to expand over the long term, workforce conditions must improve. This can
begin with educating and training agricultural entrepreneurs and the agricultural workforce.
Buffalo is increasingly being targeted to the relocation of transportation, marketing, and
manufacturing opportunities for agriculture, but farmers have not been active participants in
recruitment.
Increased intermixing of residences within agricultural production areas fuels the possibility
of nuisance claims against farmers, which can have negative impacts on earnings and farmer
retention. Increasing communication and understanding of agricultural practices, as well as
adoption of farm-friendly local ordinances, are pressing needs.
Marketing infrastructure needs to be improved. It should include a combination of economic
development attraction efforts with on-site development, modernization, processing, product
development, and scale-up of existing operations.
Tax policies at the local, state, and federal levels influence landowner decision making
significantly, particularly during intergenerational succession planning and during investment
decision making. For many local farms, this results in a short-term planning horizon or
increased pressure to transition out of the industry.
Regulatory structures need to improve to be more farm-friendly and to include:
o Better integration of local, state, and federal regulatory policies to encourage on-
farm and off-farm value added production and distribution.
o Standards for road signage to link agritourism venues in a manner similar to wine
trails.
o Agricultural practices protections in town-level land use codes.
Agricultural finance, though not currently a limiting factor for commodity agriculture, must
become more adaptive in order to meet the needs of new and beginning farms.
The previous list of economic development issues has many solutions already within the grasp of
industry and government programs at the local, regional, and state levels. These solutions are
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 28
not often applied to agriculture or fail to be fully implemented in support of agriculture. Many
times this is the result of the regional nature of western New York’s agricultural sectors because
there is no clear lead jurisdiction. This is not an uncommon phenomenon in agriculture, which
has led some regions to coordinate agricultural development efforts across multiple political
jurisdictions.
The need for economic development cooperation to support agriculture is not new in most rural
areas. Successful rural responses, however, are few. Notable among these are Hudson Valley
Agribusiness Development Corporation (HVADC) in Hudson, New York
9
and 3CORE in
Chico, California
10
. Both of these organizations offer regionally supported business
development and finance programs as well as regional planning and policy coordination.
With a limited budget, HVADC’s Agribusiness Incubator Without Walls has serviced more than
50 agribusinesses in 4 counties, with a technical assistance budget of just $50,000. These
businesses have invested more than $3 million in the local economy over the last three years.
One start-up business in the program added nearly 40 new employees in its first year of
operations and still relies on HVADC to assist with growth and development. HVADC supports
this growth by augmenting its internal staff with outside experts to ensure that this high growth
business get the resources it needs.
3CORE is known best for its innovative financing programs which have supported the growth
and development of nationally famous brands such as Sierra Nevada Brewing and Sierra Nevada
Cheese through programs like equipment purchase-leaseback*, purchase order finance*, and
industrial development bonding*. 3CORE also runs a recognized business incubation program
that targets very small companies with less then 5 employees, with the hope to spur wealth
creation in unincorporated, rural areas.
*Purchase leaseback is a financial arrangement by which the purchaser of equipment enters into a lease
agreement with the seller who is still able to use the equipment but no longer owns it.
*Purchase order finance is a financial arrangement whereby a purchase order is used to secure short-term credit
in order to fulfill the order.
*Industrial development bonding is a means by which the revenue expected from a development activity is used
to secure construction financing.
A sample of HVADC and 3CORE programs can be found in the following table:
Table 4: Sample HVADC and 3 CORE programs
Program Areas 3CORE HVADC
Finance Programs
X X
Community Planning – CEDS
X X
Planning - Other
X X
Business Coaching
X X
Business Planning
X X
Business Incubation
X X
Marketing Support
X X
Regional Branding
X
Business Resource Center
X
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 29
The programs offered by both organizations were in direct response to community identified
needs. Each of these organizations works collaboratively with other community and economic
development organizations on an annual basis through what is known as a Comprehensive
Economic Development Strategy update to ensure that they are responsive to community needs.
The best land protection, regulatory, and legislative strategies will fail without a viable
marketing component to agriculture. Erie County is well positioned to create strong market
opportunities utilizing its agricultural resources. These resources are in proximity to a large
population with strong food markets, an existing tourism industry, and a role as a transportation
hub for regional and international trade. Erie County needs to commit to improving farm
viability since most of the tools are already in place: an active Industrial Development Agency, a
robust regional business alliance in the form of the Buffalo Niagara Enterprise, and communities
committed to protecting farmland and supporting farm profitability.
What is missing from the economic and business development sector, as it relates to agriculture,
is a consolidated voice and a mechanism that ensures that the interests represented by this voice
find their way into policy and program implementation. When communities in the Hudson
Valley reached this same conclusion in 2001, they started a multi-year process that lead to the
creation of HVADC in 2006. Erie County can certainly lead western New York down a similar
path.
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 30
Hudson Valley Agribusiness Development Corporation
The Hudson Valley Agribusiness Development Corporation (HVADC) was formed in 2006 to promote
balanced, market-based solutions leading to enhanced agricultural entrepreneurship, rural economic growth,
and community development within the member Counties of Washington, Columbia, Ulster, Dutchess,
Orange, and Sullivan.
HVADC is uniquely positioned in the Hudson Valley to improve the viability of agribusinesses given its
flexible program design, focus on individual business development activities, and broad membership. Its
members include the Counties outlined above, as well as local financial institutions, farmland protection
boards, philanthropies, and individuals. HVADC was created to enhance agriculturally related economic
activity to create jobs, increase investment, and promote the integration of agriculture within the broader
economy.
HVADC’s menu of services are carefully designed to promote the Hudson Valley as an attractive, viable
region for agriculture while fostering growth and development in the agricultural sector through creative
programming, marketing, promotion, and the provision and coordination of financial and other resources.
Specific services offered include:
Agricultural Development Support for Communities
Agribusiness Technical and Professional Services
Agribusiness Incubation
Project Planning and Development Services
Capital Access Services and Programs
While these services are all well defined on HVADC’s website, they are perhaps best understood through
brief case descriptions:
Farm To Table Co-Packers
– HVADC, in cooperation with Ulster County IDA, assisted Farm-to-Table Co-
packers with the development of their processing facilities in Kingston New York. Project assistance included
accessing private, state, and federal grants and loans to equip the company’s new facilities. HVADC also
created a purchase-leaseback financing program for Farm to Table Co-Packers to install an “Individual Quick
Freeze” line (IQF). The IQF line has been used extensively by local farmers to process high quality frozen
vegetables and fruits for use in winter sales.
Farm to Table Co-Packers is currently working with farmers in the Black Dirt region of Orange County to
develop a branded line of IQF vegetables for the wholesale trade. HVADC has also entered into a license
agreement with Farm to Table Co-Packers to provide facilities and technical assistance to HVADC’s
incubator clients. HVADC is currently working with Farm to Table Co-Packers to redesign the IQF line to
increase efficiency and profitability.
Through the support of HVADC, FTC has created 30 new jobs and invested nearly $1.8 million dollars in its
new operations.
Wholesale Distributor
– HVADC raised funds for the relocation of a family owned food distribution business
and the adaptive re-use of its former facilities. Portions of the original facilities were of interest to several
local entrepreneurs and the town for their adaptive re-use potential as a center for local food processing and
distribution. HVADC completed the adaptive re-use study for the facility and created a re-development
strategy linking the needs of the town, farmers, and the food industry.
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 31
3-CORE
3-Core is an economic development planning agency for three counties, Butte, Tehama, and Glenn, in the
Northern Central Valley of California, created to support the development of entrepreneurial businesses in the
region. 3-Core’s primary mission is to provide financing, counseling, and community development through
direct support programs.
Project financing that is customized to the needs of local entrepreneurs is a centerpiece of 3-Core’s
programming. 3-Core uses a combination of existing federal and state lending programs as well as privately
financed loan programs, such as Community Reinvestment Act funds, and equity instruments to achieve its
goals.
Managing such a complex set of programs requires a streamlined partnership to keep deals moving quickly.
Among 3-Core’s many partners are the Small Business Administration, the Golden Capital Network,
Wavepoint Venture, the North Valley Community Fund, and the Capital Access Program of the California
State Treasurers Office.
From 1996 to 2009, 3-Core loaned more than $30 million and facilitated direct equity investments through a
20 percent California State tax credit. Since 2009, significant challenges arose in keeping the financing
programs open in large part due to the faltering economic conditions in the U.S. and California. Small
businesses in the region were hit hardest, causing 3-core to aggressively seek to increase both funding
availability and flexibility for this sector.
The solution came in the form of the 3-Core Loan Confidence Fund (LCF). The LCF is a loan guarantee fund
that is created by a partnership
of 3-Core, its borrowers, the California State Treasurer, local donors, and the North Valley Community
Foundation.
The fund uses a credit enhancement to encourage commercial lenders to participate in small business and
agricultural loans by funding a loan loss reserve to reduce the banks’ exposure in non-performing loans. The
LCF is funded as follows:
1. 3-Core sets aside 2 percent of the face value of every loan it makes in the LCF.
2. Each 3-Core borrower also contributes 2 percent of the face value of 3-Core loans in the LCF.
3. The State of California matches the borrower’s contribution 1:1.
4. The North Valley Community Foundation raises private funds from private donors to fund the LCF.
Qualified donors can treat certain LCF investments as a program-related investment (PRI).
5. The North Valley Community Foundation holds the LCF funds in qualified investments (predominately
CD’s).
6. North Valley Community Foundation donors may elect to receive interest payments from the
investments or reinvest in the LCF.
7. As the LCF fund grows, 3-Core is able to provide a greater level of credit enhancement thereby
stimulating loan growth.
Using the LCF, 3-Core has been able to finance four agriculturally related businesses. These are: Sierra
Nevada Cheese, Orland Meat Products, Mill Creek Veterinary Hospital, and Maisie Jane’s (dried fruit and
nuts).
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 32
Purchase of Development Rights: Stimulating Local Economies and Protecting Farmland
Purchase of development rights (PDR), or purchase of agricultural conservation easements
(PACE), permanently protects farmland from development by placing a deed restriction, called
an agricultural conservation easement, on the land. The land remains in private ownership and
can be sold to a buyer or passed on to a next generation. This voluntary process compensates the
farmer for the value of the development rights and limits the use of the land to farming in
perpetuity (forever).
In 1996, New York State started the Farmland Protection Program and instituted a competitive
application process to annually award grants to counties and municipalities to assist in the
purchase of development rights on farmland. These grants funded 75 % of the purchase and the
county/municipality funded the remaining 25 %, or the farmer/landowner donated that value.
Since its inception, the Farmland Protection Program has saved 303 farms in 29 counties
(including Erie County), protecting 73,000 acres of farmland in New York. Since 2009, no new
state grants have been awarded but open projects have been reviewed and ushered through the
real estate closing process. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) also
annually awards PDR grants, through the Federal Farm and Ranchlands Protection Program
(FRPP), that fund up to 50 % of the development rights purchase.
Survey results, reported by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets in 2009,
found that 72 % of the time farmer respondents who received funds from grants to purchase
development rights, invested the money in the farm business, into retirement savings, or paid off
debt.
11
Farmland was purchased, barns were built, and money was circulated through local
economies. This was farm viability, agricultural economic development, and farmland
protection all rolled into one effort.
Since New York’s program began, four towns
in Erie County permanently protected over
2,000 acres of farmland with conservation
easements held by the Western New York
Land Conservancy. The Town of Marilla
began a local PACE program in 1999, and
over seven years protected 880 acres of
farmland. One year earlier, the Town of
Amherst began protecting 860 acres of
farmland as part of a larger planning process
that also saw the formation of Nature View
Park with 1200 acres adjacent to the protected
farmland. Later, the Town of Elma purchased
the development rights on 60 acres owned by a Marilla farmer who had other protected farmland.
An additional 715 acres of farmland are permanently protected in Elma through the USDA
Grassland Reserve Program. And, in 2002 the Town of Clarence passed a $12.5 million bond,
by public referendum, to purchase development rights on farm and natural lands. To date the
town has permanently protected or purchased 1,025 acres of farmland.
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 33
Most of the agricultural conservation easements placed on the farmland are co-held by each town
and the Western New York Land Conservancy (WNYLC). WNYLC monitors the properties, in
collaboration with the towns and the landowners, in perpetuity to ensure that the purpose of the
agricultural conservation easement is upheld. There is also additional farmland in the county
protected with permanent conservation easements that are held by the Genesee Valley
Conservancy, a land trust located in Geneseo, New York. With this land the total protected
farmland in Erie County is 3,888 acres.
County PDR Program:
While four towns in Erie County have proactively protected farmland by purchasing the
development rights on the land, there is value in approaching land protection on a county level.
Agricultural resources are not defined by political boundaries and a broader planning view can
better assess the resource value and protection needs. The county also has a staffed planning
department to assist with the complicated real estate transactions that result from PDR awards.
Some counties in New York State have PDR programs - Livingston and Wayne Counties have
active programs in western New York. The following is required for Erie County to develop a
PDR program:
Identify an entity to oversee the program. The Department of Environment and
Planning, with assistance from the county Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board,
could manage a county program.
Establish program goals. How much farmland should be protected? Where are priority
areas for protection in the county? Who will steward the easements?
Determine the cost of the program to the county. Identify how the program will be
funded.
Develop a county pre-application.
Hold a required annual meeting for farmers and landowners interested in completing a
pre-application.
Rank pre-applications.
If applicable, complete and submit applications to the state and/or federal program.
Manage the closing process for any awarded projects.
Term Easements
Two towns in the County have programs that give landowners the option of protecting their land
for a term or permanently. Orchard Park has had a program since the 1990s and the Town of
Elma is close to finalizing a program. In both cases, landowners agree to not develop their land
for a set number of years in exchange for a percentage decrease in property taxes on the land
during the term; the longer the term, the greater the decrease in property taxes.
Agricultural Districts and Right to Farm Protections
Article 25-AA of New York State’s Agriculture and Markets Law was enacted in 1971 to
establish county agricultural districts in order to help keep land in active agricultural use. The
County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board, in conjunction with the County Department
of Environment and Planning, is responsible for local administration of the agricultural districts.
Erie County has 14 state-certified, county-approved agricultural districts encompassing 258,717
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 34
acres – the tenth highest number of county-approved Agricultural District acres in the state.
Farmers and rural landowners enrolled in these agricultural districts receive important “right-to-
farm” protections:
Definition of agriculture: the commissioner of the New York State Department of
Agricultural and Markets has authority to determine what constitutes an
agricultural land use.
Local ordinance provision: provides protection against unreasonably restrictive
zoning code and ordinances regarding farm practices.
Agricultural data statements: requires that an agricultural data statement be filed
with the local board for certain land uses located within 500 feet of a farm in an
agricultural district.
Notice of intent:
an NOI filing on proposed public projects in an agricultural
district identifies potential impacts on agriculture and is reviewed by the County
Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board and the New York State Department of
Agriculture and Markets.
Sound agriculture practices:
gives authority to the New York State Commissioner
of Agriculture and Markets to review specific cases and issue an opinion regarding
whether an agricultural practice is “sound”.
Disclosure notices: requires that landowners in agricultural districts provide a
notice to a prospective buyer at the time that a purchase contract is signed, advising
the purchaser that agricultural practices occur in the area.
Erie County as a whole, as well as 23 of the 25 towns
in the county have adopted “Right-to-Farm” laws.
These local laws complement the state law, publicize
county and town support for local farms, and, in many
of the municipal laws, establish a town process for
dispute resolution involving farms. While Agricultural
Districts and Right to Farm Laws cannot keep land in
farming nor ensure farm profitability, they have served
as the cornerstone for agricultural planning and have
helped to stabilize the farmland base.
Local Property Tax Program
Many cost of community services studies (COCS) have been conducted across the country that
show that farms use less in services than they pay in taxes while the reverse is true for residences
(Chart 3). Farmland can help to lower demand and expense for public services in a town.
Balancing working farms with other land uses makes fiscal sense for municipalities.
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 35
Chart 3. Cost per dollar of revenue raised to provide public
services to different land uses.
Agricultural assessment is a state program that recognizes that farmland should be valued and
assessed at its use value for farming. Agricultural assessment is applicable to land in or outside
of an agricultural district that meets the following criteria. Eligible farmland parcels must be at
least seven acres and worked by a farm that grossed at least $10,000 annually in agricultural
sales for the preceding two years. Or, if the land is less than seven acres, the farm working the
land must have an average gross sales value of at least $50,000 annually for the preceding two
years. Landowners who rent their land to farmers can qualify for agricultural assessment if they
provide a minimum five-year lease to the farmer and the farmer’s operation meets the criteria for
eligibility. Converting land to a non-agricultural use will end agricultural assessment and will
result in a computed penalty. Farmers and landowners wishing to enroll in agricultural
assessment must visit the Erie County Soil and Water Conservation District office to determine
the soil types on the farm parcels (agricultural use assessment values are set by the state and vary
by soil type), then visit the town assessor to complete and file state form RP-305 (in Appendix).
Agricultural assessment does not guarantee that land will remain in agriculture but, as with
agricultural districts, it has a stabilizing affect on the land base, and can incentivize farmland
leasing by non-farm landowners.
Land Use and Infrastructure Planning
While towns in New York State have jurisdiction for land use regulations, the County does have
the responsibility to assist municipalities with land use and infrastructure planning. In developing
this plan, a number of maps were created to aid land use planning on both the county and the
town level. Following is a basic description of each map with associated suggestions for use as a
planning tool.
$0.00
$0.25
$0.50
$0.75
$1.00
$1.25
$1.50
Farm, Forest
and Open Land
$0.29/$1
Commerc ial
$0.26/$1
Residential
$1.27/$1
Chart 3:
Cost per dollar of revenue raised to provide
public services to different land uses.
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 36
Maps
1. Land in Erie County Agricultural Districts: identifies the 14 state-certified, county-
approved agricultural districts in the county. (Note: there are agricultural districts
numbered greater than 14 due to district consolidation of lower number districts.)
Farms within the county’s agricultural districts receive the Right to Farm protections
outlined previously. It is important for the county to know which farm parcels are
located in agricultural districts, and is also important for individual towns to have maps
of the agricultural district(s) that fall within town boundaries. The county currently
provides this information to the towns.
2. Agricultural Parcels and Cropland Coverage: identifies active agricultural land within
agricultural parcels (some land in parcels may be woodland or scrub land and is not
tilled).
This map is most useful for informative purposes, providing a consolidated view of active
agricultural land in the towns.
3. Agricultural Soils Rating: identifies parcels with the greatest amount of high quality
soils. Soils with USDA soils classifications of prime received a rating of 2; prime when
drained rated 1.5; and soils of statewide importance rated 1. The number of acres in each
category in a parcel was multiplied by those weighting factors then the totals were added
together.
This should be one of the most used maps by both the county and towns. It very clearly
shows locations of the largest acreages of high quality soils. While all of the farmland in
the county should receive the benefit of effective planning so that it is not converted, it is
valuable to note which parcels and areas of the county contain the best soils and greatest
quantities of quality farmland. Particular care must be taken to protect these areas from
conversion. New water and sewer extensions should not be placed in these areas, and tap
ins for existing lines should not be allowed. Towns should create zoning districts that
encompass these areas and support farming as the primary use in those districts.
4. Natural Resources Rating: identifies and values parcels with particular natural resources
features. The number of acres in each of three categories was added together to
determine the Natural Resource Value Rating for a parcel: state or federally-regulated
wetland, including a 100 foot buffer from wetlands regulated by the NYS Department of
Environmental Conservation; land within 75 feet of a mapped stream or lake; land within
500 feet of the Lake Erie shoreline.
This map is useful when considering the value that well-managed farms can have in
protecting wildlife habitat and water quality. Cost share funding to adopt conservation
practices on parcels receiving a high natural resource ranking should be prioritized for
these farms.
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 37
5. Natural Resources Rating Features: identifies DEC and federal wetlands, streams, and
agricultural parcels.
This map depicts the natural resources features used in the rating map but is also useful
for viewing the actual location of key natural resources features in relation to critical
farmland parcels.
6. Proximity to Protected Lands: identifies parcels located within 500 feet of protected
farmland (land that is restricted from development due to a conservation easement or
owned by a municipality and leased for farm use), a public park, or other preserved land.
Protecting a critical mass of farmland in a given area can be vital for farm viability and
ease of overall planning. This map identifies parcels of protected farmland, as well as
other public and protected land. Since public funds are often invested in protecting land,
locating newly protected farmland nearby maximizes the public investment in land
protection. Any towns that have protected land should use this map when considering
land use projects, and the county should consider the locations of protected land in
developing a PDR program and prioritizing land to be protected.
7. Framework for Regional Growth Policy Areas: identifies agricultural parcels in relation
to regional growth policy areas from the Erie Niagara Framework for Regional Growth.
The Framework delineates Developed, Developing, and Rural areas as well as
Development Centers and Corridors.
This is another key map for use in both county and town agricultural planning. The
Framework has already identified areas of the county that have high development
pressure and are therefore at increased risk of farmland conversion. Farms in any of the
three areas have value to their communities and the County and need supportive planning
in order to remain viable. Farms located in the Developing area are often at high risk of
conversion. These farms are in areas that have experienced sprawling development.
When prioritizing farms for protection, this map should always be consulted and other
factors and other maps used in conjunction with it. Reiterating and upholding the
Framework policies regarding farmland in the Developing and Rural areas is critical to
alleviating development pressure on farms in the county, and to stopping sprawling
development from reaching the Rural areas of the county.
As outlined previously in this plan:
The conservation of agricultural land is a key policy for the Developing Areas. Relevant
strategies include:
Support local planning that designates areas appropriate for development and
conservation, minimizes conversion of agricultural lands and avoids “leap
frog” patterns of development
Minimize conversion of significant agricultural lands
Channel growth to areas with existing sewer and water service
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 38
Where extensions of public sewer and water service are needed to address
health issues, restrict tap-ins for new development in areas designated for
agricultural use
Strategies for Rural Areas include:
Expand efforts to strengthen the rural economy, including the conservation of
agricultural lands and rural economic development initiatives
Identify and conserve agricultural lands, support zoning that reduces
permitted development densities, require cluster development to maintain
rural character and protect resources, and discourage continued subdivision
of rural road frontages
Encourage the contraction of sewer district boundaries that extend into areas
designated for agricultural use
8. Clusters of Parcels with High Agricultural Soils Values: identifies areas in the county
that have groupings of farmland parcels with excellent soils.
The identified areas are generalized and have value when using planning tools to protect
areas of farmland with the best soils in the county. These clustered areas do not take into
consideration development pressure, but do depict places where non-farm development
should not occur. Water and sewer extensions should not be placed in these areas and if
they already exist, tap ins should not be allowed. These are excellent areas in the county
for farming – the best soils, largest parcels, and highest quantity of adjacent farmland.
Finally, no single map is designed to be used independently for agricultural planning – referring
to a number of the maps will yield the best analysis and decisions. The county should ensure
that all towns have copies of these maps with the associated methodology (in the Appendix) and
text descriptions, and should encourage their use by town planning boards and town boards.
Trainings offered to town volunteers and staff should include opportunities to learn how to use
these maps to plan for agriculture in local towns.
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 47
Strategies, Goals, and Actions
The Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board, after collecting and reviewing
public and farmer input, developed a plan of action to address identified agricultural needs in
Erie County over the next decade, from 2012 to 2022. Following are two main strategies with
specific measurable goals for each. Each goal has a list of actions that can be taken. This is a
comprehensive list of goals and actions and requires input and assistance from a myriad of
partners. No partner listed or entity mentioned is required to assist but will hopefully choose to
support the process of improving and supporting Erie County’s farm viability. Priority actions
are highlighted and these are the actions that the Erie County Department of Environment and
Planning and the Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board will prioritize for
implementation. All other support actions will be prioritized, executed, and evaluated for action
periodically throughout the ten year implementation phase.
Strategy I: Keep land in agricultural production by protecting farmland, helping a new
generation to farm, and improving the viability of all farms in the County.
Goal A: Retain 95% of the 149,356 acres in the county in agricultural production as
reported by the 2007 USDA Census of Agriculture.
Priority Action to protect farmland and stabilize the land base:
Determine the feasibility of developing an Erie County purchase of development rights
program. A county program will use maps developed as part of this planning process that
identify important farmland protection criteria such as soil quality, development pressure, and
location in relation to public natural resources and other permanently protected land, to inform a
voluntary, pre-application process, which will identify farmers and landowners interested in
protecting their land. Review of maps, farmland protection criteria, and pre-applications will
culminate in a ranking of potential projects. New York State (www.agriculture.ny.gov) and the
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/easements/farmranch have
had programs to supplement the local cost of purchasing development rights on farmland. New
York’s program has not funded any new projects since 2009. In order to institute a county
program, a local funding source will be needed to match the federal or state program funding, or
to fully fund the county program.
Implementation:
Timeline: Immediate action (1-2 years)
Lead: Dept. of Environment and Planning; Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board
Partners: Western New York Land Conservancy; American Farmland Trust; U.S. Dept. of
Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service
Potential Funding Sources: County funds; Natural Resources Conservation Service Farm and
Ranch Land Protection Program; New York State Farmland Protection Program.
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 48
Support Actions to protect farmland and stabilize the land base:
Support the state-certified agricultural district program with right-to-farm provisions.
New York Agricultural Districts Law, Article 25AA
(http://www.agriculture.ny.gov/AP/agservices/25-AA.pdf
) of the Agricultural and Markets Law,
provides ‘right-to-farm’ protections for farms in state-certified, county-adopted agricultural
districts. These include protection against unreasonably restrictive local ordinances, the ability
to undertake sound (as determined by the NYS Commissioner of Agriculture) agricultural
practices, agricultural data statements for certain land uses within 500 feet of a farm, and notice
of intent filings on proposed public projects that may impact farms.
Continue to consolidate the 14 county-approved, state-certified agricultural districts in the
County with an ultimate goal of four districts for the County.
Implementation:
Timeline: ongoing
Lead: Dept. of Environment and Planning; Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board
Partners: Towns in Erie County
Potential Funding Sources: NA
Collect agricultural assessment data by town in order to
inform agricultural planning efforts. The Erie County
Department of Environment and Planning administers the
state agricultural districts program for the county and staffs
the Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board.
Agricultural assessment data is collected by individual
municipalities but not necessarily shared with the county
Dept. of Environment and Planning. Understanding
exactly what land in the county is in active agricultural
production is necessary for the Dept. of Environment and
Planning and the Agricultural and Farmland Protection
Board to effectively plan for agriculture in the county.
This data will inform a Purchase of Development Rights
Program as well as all other actions outlined in this Plan.
Implementation:
Timeline: Immediate Action (1-2 years)
Lead: Dept. of Environment and Planning
Partners: Towns in Erie County; Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board
Potential Funding Sources: NA
Assist towns that wish to adopt term and/or permanent easement programs. Currently the
towns of Orchard Park and Elma have term easement programs with permanent conservation
easement options. These programs reduce the property tax assessment on a minimum acreage
and place a deed restriction for a specified term on that land. Farmland is unavailable for
development during the term. Because the town’s legal authority to establish such a program
was questioned, Orchard Park and Elma sought state authorizing legislation in order to proceed
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 49
with the program. Determining the parameters of a term easement program, and requesting state
authorization can be daunting tasks for a town. DEP assistance can facilitate the process.
Providing support to towns that have permanently protected farmland is important as well. This
includes the towns of Amherst, Marilla, Elma, and Clarence.
Implementation:
Timeline: Intermediate Action (3-5 years)
Lead: Towns in Erie County
Partners: Dept. of Environment and Planning; Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board
Potential Funding Sources: Town funds
Develop a ditch maintenance program which supports preservation of prime agricultural
land. Poor ditch maintenance affects good agricultural land when plant growth clogs ditches and
pipes reducing their effectiveness and contributing to water soaked farm fields that become
difficult to impossible to till. In wet areas of the County, particularly the northern portion of Erie
County, this has become an increasingly frustrating situation for farmers. Regular ditch
maintenance performed with input from the farm community will help to alleviate this situation.
Implementation:
Timeline: Intermediate
Lead: Dept. of Environment and Planning in coordination with Department of Public Works
Partners: Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board; Towns
Potential Funding Sources: County and Town funds
Goal B: Retain 95% of the 1,215 farms in the county as reported by the USDA 2007 Census
of Agriculture. (Note: The Census of Agriculture defines a farm as producing and
selling $1,000 of agricultural products in a year.)
Priority Action to help a next generation to become established on new and existing farms
through training programs, promotion, education, and incentives.
Determine the feasibility of developing a community college agricultural training program
for workforce development. Niagara County Community College has a horticulture degree
program(http://catalog.niagaracc.suny.edu/preview_program.php?catoid=6&poid=247&returnto
=132) for students interested in careers with nurseries, landscapers, golf courses, or florists.
Genesee Community College offers an exploratory agriculture course to help students better
understand agriculture in the region
(http://www.genesee.edu/content/academics/programs/MathSci/Environ/AGR190_factsheet.pdf
).
And Monroe Community College has an Agriculture and Life Sciences Institute
(http://www.monroecc.edu/depts/Agriculture/
) designed to prepare students for farm and food
production careers. Erie County can use these courses and programs as models to create a
community college agriculture degree program that trains students for work on farms.
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 50
Implementation:
Timeline: Immediate Action (1-2 years)
Lead: Dept. of Environment and Planning
Partners: Erie Community College; Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board
Potential Funding Sources: Erie Community College program funds; Erie County
Support Actions to help a next generation become established on new and existing farms through
training programs, promotion, education, and incentives:
Research and develop programs that will help to build an educated and trained workforce
for local farms by:
Encouraging BOCES to include agricultural workforce training. BOCES offers
career training for high school students and workforce development for adults.
Expanding these programs to include hands-on training for farm work will help to
provide a local workforce for Erie County farms.
http://www.boces.org/wps/portal/BOCESofNYS http://www.e1b.org/wps/portal/Erie1
Developing a formal county apprenticeship and internship program. Create a
comprehensive program package that farms can use when offering apprenticeships and
internships. Farms sometimes hire students or young adults who continue to work on the
farm throughout their high school and college years. A small number of these students
become permanent employees on a farm or begin to farm on their own. Generally, this
has happened informally in Erie County; Cornell Cooperative Extension of Erie County
can facilitate these work arrangements by documenting and sharing opportunities for
apprenticeships and internships on local farms.
Researching the institution of a farm workforce development program that could
benefit new immigrant populations and farms. Diverse immigrant and refugee
populations from around the world are located in Erie County. Many immigrants come
to the U.S. with farm backgrounds and knowledge. Using these farming skills and
helping individuals to secure jobs benefits the immigrants and local farmers. The New
Farmer Development Program in New York City
(http://www.grownyc.org/greenmarket/nfdp) supports and trains immigrants to become
farm owners.
Supporting all youth agriculture programs: 4-H is part of Cornell Cooperative
Extension (including programming at the Belle Center in Buffalo
http://www.thebellecenter.org/
) and provides hands-on learning opportunities for youth in
a variety of areas including agriculture (http://cceeriecounty.shutterfly.com/4-
hyouthdevelopment); Future Farmers of America (FFA) is a high school and college
agricultural career and leadership program (http://www.nysffa.org/); and Agriculture in
the Classroom is a curriculum based education program for primary and secondary
students that uses agricultural lessons to teach required competencies
(http://www.agclassroom.org/ny/)
.
Encouraging agriculture programs in city, suburban, and rural school districts.
McKinley High School in Buffalo
(http://www.buffaloschools.org/McKinley.cfm?subpage=46912) offers a horticulture
program for students and hosts a chapter of the FFA. Supporting and enhancing this
program to include training in other agricultural careers and urban farming can create
new opportunities for city youth and may help to provide a trained workforce for county
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 51
farms. John Bowne High School in New York City is a model for an extensive internship
component in a school agriculture program.
(http://www.johnbowne.org/apps/pages/index.jsp?uREC_ID=65010&type=d.)
Implementation:
Timeline: Immediate Action (1-2 years) for the apprenticeship program; Ongoing Action for
the support of youth education programs; Intermediate Action for all others (3-5 years)
Lead: Cornell Cooperative Extension for the apprenticeship program; Erie County Farm
Bureau for the youth and school agriculture programs; Dept. of Environment and Planning
for all others
Partners: Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board; Cornell Cooperative Extension; Erie
County Farm Bureau; Dept. of Environment and Planning
Potential Funding Sources: Grants for the apprenticeship program and the workforce
development training program for immigrants
Urban agriculture:
Support Buffalo’s Green Code zoning update in order to expand urban farming
opportunities. The City of Buffalo is part way through a two year process to update its 60 year
old zoning code to be ‘place-based’ with emphasis on enhancing the quality of life and character
of the city. Urban farming is prevalent in many large U.S. cities, and has become rooted in
Buffalo’s neighborhoods as well. Zoning code that reflects the interests and needs of urban
agriculture will help these farms to flourish – farms such as the Massachusetts Avenue Project
(MAP) http://mass-ave.org/, Community Action Organization Green Entrepreneurial Center
http://www.caoec.org/html/gec.html, Wilson Street Farm
http://wilsonstreeturbanfarm.wordpress.com/, and others.
Implementation:
Timeline: Immediate Action (1-2 years)
Lead: Dept. of Environment and Planning; Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board
Partners: Massachusetts Avenue Project; Grassroots Gardens of Buffalo
Potential Funding Sources: NA
New farmers:
a. Determine the feasibility of developing
a property tax abatement program for
new farmers. Similar to a payment in
lieu of taxes (PILOT), new farmers
could receive an exemption from
property taxes for a specified time
period, for instance five years, on land
that is used for agricultural production.
Town IDAs could function as the
primary program provider. The PILOT
could require that a new farmer
participate in a training program offered
by Cornell Cooperative Extension,
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 52
Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA NY), Northeast
Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (NESAWG), or others in order to qualify for the
exemption. The state of Nebraska has a beginning farmer tax credit program for personal
property used in agricultural production that operates in a similar manner.
(http://www.agr.state.ne.us/beg_farmer/index.html.)
Implementation:
Timeline: Intermediate Action (3-5 years)
Lead: Town Industrial Development Agencies (IDAs)
Partners: DEP; AFPB
Potential Funding Sources: As determined by Town IDAs
b. Promote western New York as a place to farm. Erie County will lead a western New
York effort to promote the region to new farmers and to help transition farms that are at
particular risk of being lost to development. Promotional efforts will focus on niche,
value added, and direct market farm enterprises that operate on smaller acreages in urban-
edge areas. Jefferson County developed a promotional program, Come Farm With Us,
which eventually expanded to encompass 8 northern New York counties and led to the
transfer of well over 65 farms in the North Country. (http://www.comefarmwithus.org/.)
Implementation:
Timeline: Long Term Action (6-10 years)
Lead: Dept. of Environment and Planning
Partners: Erie County Farm Bureau; Cornell Cooperative Extension; Northeast Organic
Farming Association of New York other western NY county organizations
Potential Funding Sources: Foundation grants
c. Promote existing training programs that are targeted to small and beginning
farmers. Organizations that offer such programs include Cornell Cooperative Extension
of Erie County http://cceeriecounty.shutterfly.com/agriculture,
Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York http://www.nofany.org/
,
Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (NESAWG) http://www.nefood.org/,
and others.
Implementation:
Timeline: Ongoing Action
Lead: Cornell Cooperative Extension
Partners: Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York; Northeast Sustainable
Agriculture Working Group; Dept. of Environment and Planning
Potential Funding Sources: NA
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 53
Goal C: Establish five new agricultural programs (from the list below or others) that can
improve the viability of farms in Erie County.
Priority Action to improve farm viability and increase investment in agricultural economic
development projects.
Incorporate agritourism into countywide tourism efforts.
Hay rides, corn mazes, u-pick, and farm trails have popped up around the region, and are helping
farmers to supplement traditional farm income and to keep farms in business. Coordinating
agritourism efforts and promotion allows farms to share costs, and can help market the county as
place to visit. Erie County agriculture is diverse and has something for everyone. The scenic
beauty of farm country, and consumer interest in local farm products will draw tourists to the
county’s rural areas. The Southtowns Community Enhancement Coalition partnered with the
University of Buffalo Regional Institute to develop a farm market brochure after surveying area
farmers http://www.regional-
institute.buffalo.edu/Includes/UserDownloads/sowing_finalreport.pdf. The Buffalo Niagara
Convention and Visitors Bureau recommends the Lake Erie and Niagara wine trails as something
to do when in the region. http://www.visitbuffaloniagara.com/food-and-dining/vineyards-wine-
trails/.
Implementation:
Timeline: Ongoing
Lead: Southtowns Community Enhancement Coalition
Partners: Buffalo Niagara Convention and Visitors Bureau
Potential Funding Sources: Grants
Support Actions to improve farm viability and increase investment in agricultural economic
development projects:
Establish a shovel-ready Agribusiness Park in the county to attract food and agricultural
processing businesses. Processing facilities for raw agricultural products can create an added
market for local farms.
Implementation:
Timeline: Immediate Action (1-2 years)
Lead: Dept. of Environment and Planning
Partners: Buffalo Niagara Enterprise; Erie County Industrial Development Agency; Town(s)
with potential sites
Potential Funding Sources: Regional Economic Development Council
Capital:
Create an Industrial Development Agency (IDA) Agricultural Specialist position. This
position would be the coordinator of all county agricultural economic development initiatives.
Responsibilities would include developing and managing a U.S. Dept. of Agriculture
microenterprise loan fund / rural microenterprise technical assistance; researching and applying
to funding sources for agricultural economic development projects in the County; assisting with
agricultural business attraction efforts (production, processing, wholesale, retail); exploring
innovative financing options for agricultural businesses as well as for implementation of actions
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 54
in this Plan; and, generally supporting all county efforts that seek to improve farm viability. This
position would also have a seat on the Agricultural Working Group of the Western New York
Regional Economic Development Council. Instituting a “funders forum to creatively pitch
county and regional agricultural economic development projects to public (Empire State
Development; Rural Development, others) and private funders (local foundations, others) would
be a key implementation action for this position.
Implementation:
Timeline: Intermediate Action (3-5 years)
Lead: Erie County IDA
Partners: Dept. of Environment and Planning
Potential Funding Sources: Erie County IDA funds
Aggregation and Distribution:
a. Research the feasibility of creating a food hub in the region for farm product
aggregation and distribution with the following elements:
Co-packing facilities
Public cold storage
Branded, community marketing
initiatives
Partnerships with upstream and
downstream industries
Global GAP certification capability
designed into the operating and
management systems
USDA inspected facilities
Shared-use processing facilities with
business support systems; e.g.,
business incubation services
Best practice research on food hubs can be found at http://wallacecenter.org/our-
work/current-initiatives/food-hub-collaboration
Implementation:
Timeline: Immediate Action (1-2 years)
Lead: Field and Fork Network
Partners: Dept. of Environment and Planning; Erie County Farm Bureau
Potential Funding Sources: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, grants
b. Identify a coordinating agency to issue a request for proposals to provide
aggregation and distribution services for local farmers and food processors seeking to
develop external markets.
Implementation:
Timeline: Long term actions (5-10 years)
Lead: Field and Fork Network
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 55
Partners: Erie County IDA; Buffalo Niagara Enterprise; Dept. of Environment and
Planning
Potential Funding Sources: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture; Regional Economic Development
Council
c. Research development of an innovation center for the western New York region (for
new food product development and value-added) www.cdr.wisc.edu.
The center should be focused on key regional sectors such as dairy, livestock, and
vegetables. Attract private sector participation and investment. Seek affiliations with
national and international research institutions with a proven record of success.
Implementation:
Timeline: Long term (5-10 years)
Lead: Dept. of Environment and Planning
Partners: Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board; Cornell Cooperative Extension;
other western New York county planning departments and other agricultural
organizations
Potential Funding Sources: Regional Economic Development Council
Marketing:
a. Develop a county program to help farmers market their agricultural products and
to assist with identifying new market opportunities. This program should focus on
virtual services and include a more rigorous transaction based system than is currently
offered by Market Maker; for example, a program similar to the Fresh Fork Market
www.freshforkmarket.com.
Implementation:
Timeline: Long term
Lead: Cornell Cooperative Extension
Partners: Erie County Farm Bureau
Potential Funding Sources: Grants
b. Develop a regional agricultural brand. It can be difficult for consumers who want to
purchase local agricultural products, to identify which products are actually produced in
western New York. A regional brand provides a quick, visible indication of where the
product comes from. New York State has a state brand for agricultural products grown,
and foods processed, in the state. http://www.prideofny.com/
Implementation:
Timeline: Immediate Action (1-2 years)
Lead: Field and Fork Network
Partners: Cornell Cooperative Extension
Potential Funding Sources: New York State Dept. of Agriculture and Markets
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 56
Strategy II Inform the public, local leaders, and elected officials about the benefits that
agriculture provides and support policy and legislative changes that will
improve farm viability.
Goal A: Fifty percent of the towns in Erie County will document the importance of
agriculture to the local community either in their comprehensive plan or through
other local planning efforts.
Priority Actions to educate local leaders and elected officials about the benefits that farms
provide to local economies and to the quality of life of county residents:
Erie County will calculate the value of agriculture to the local and regional economy as
part of a complete economic analysis of agriculture and its multiplier effects. Local officials
need information on the many benefits that farms provide to communities, but in order to be
fiscally responsive to residents concerns, economic information is particularly useful. A
complete analysis of the local and regional agriculture economy can provide this needed
information. It will also be useful for the county to share cost of community services studies that
American Farmland Trust and others have done in many areas of the country. These studies
show that farms contribute more in property taxes than they use in services.
(http://www.farmlandinfo.org/documents/38422/COCS_08-2010.pdf
.)
This economic information will also help to inform a Purchase of Development Rights Program
as well as all other actions in this Plan.
Implementation:
Timeline: Intermediate Action (3-5 years)
Lead: Dept. of Environment and Planning
Partners: University of Buffalo; Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board; Erie County towns
Potential Funding Sources: To be determined by Dept. of Environment and Planning
Erie County Dept. of Environment and Planning will offer trainings for local
leaders and volunteers about:
agricultural friendly zoning;
the economic benefits of farms and buying local farm products;
the value of agriculture to the local community including cost of community service
studies;
agricultural assessment requirements and enforcement;
incorporating agriculture into comprehensive plans and, developing and implementing
agricultural and farmland protection plans;
use of plan maps, especially soils maps, for local planning purposes;
assessing and coding farmland and easement protected land; and
addressing water line restrictions, drainage, and other infrastructure concerns that impact
farms.
In New York State, towns are responsible for land use decisions. Yet, agricultural resources are
not defined by political boundaries and are often better served by regional planning. Erie County
can provide training to municipal leaders and volunteers to assist them in making educated land
use decisions that support agriculture and help farms remain in business.
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 57
Implementation:
Timeline: Ongoing and Immediate Action (1-2 years)
Lead: Dept. of Environment and Planning
Partners: Towns in Erie County; Cornell Cooperative Extension; Soil and Water Conservation
District; Natural Resources Conservation Service; American Farmland Trust; Erie County Dept.
of Real Property Tax Services
Potential Funding Sources: NA
Support Actions to educate local leaders and elected officials about the benefits that farms
provide to local economies and to the quality of life of county residents:
Periodically host farm tours for local officials and leaders.
Many elected officials have never visited a working farm and doing so can be quite informative.
In past years, Erie County hosted local leaders on tours of farms during the renewal period for a
state-certified agricultural district. This was an ideal opportunity to engage local officials in
planning for agriculture in their community. For 22 years, Genesee County has annually hosted
a countywide bus tour of farms and agribusinesses for officials and leaders, the Local Decision
Makers Tour. (http://www.co.genesee.ny.us/docs/planning/ag_tour_rsvp_form_2011.pdf.)
Implementation:
Timeline: Ongoing
Lead: Cornell Cooperative Extension
Partners: Dept. of Environment and Planning; Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board; Erie
County Farm Bureau; Natural Resources Conservation Service; Soil and Water Conservation
District, American Farmland Trust
Potential Funding Sources: To be determined by collaborating organizations.
Encourage towns to use Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) to expand regional
planning for agriculture, and to recognize that farms are land based businesses that are not
always well served when defined by political boundaries. Towns in the county already use
MOUs for specific multi-town planning purposes. For example the towns of Amherst and
Clarence have an MOU for the shared Transit Road transportation corridor. The Southtowns
Community Enhancement Coalition is a group of nine municipalities in the southern portion of
the county who are working together to support agriculture. Formalizing that support to include
planning for agriculture would be a natural next step. Another example is in 2000, the towns of
Brant, Evans, and North Collins developed a joint Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan to
coordinate agricultural planning efforts.
Implementation:
Timeline: Long Term (6-10 years)
Lead: Dept. of Environment and Planning
Partners: towns in Erie County
Potential Funding Sources: NA
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 58
Goal B: Twenty percent of food products purchased by county institutions will come from
local and regional farmers.
Priority Action to support policies that will help farms to provide affordable, local food to
county residents:
Develop a county Food Policy Council that includes a formal role for the Agriculture and
Farmland Protection Board so that farmland is recognized as a critical component of local
food production, and farm and food issues are not decoupled. Food Policy Councils typically
influence policies directly related to food issues. It is
less typical that they address land policies as they
relate to farms and food production. Erie County has
an ideal opportunity to create a Food Policy Council
that does both and includes representation from the
county Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board.
Missoula County, Montana established a food and
agriculture coalition http://www.missoulacfac.org/ to
serve as an umbrella organization for two committees
addressing land use and agricultural viability as well
as food access and consumption issues.
Implementation:
Timeline: Immediate Action (1-2 years)
Lead: Healthy Kids Healthy Communities
Partners: Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board; American Farmland Trust
Potential Funding Sources: NA
Support Actions to support policies that will help farms to provide affordable, local food to
county residents:
Work with the Food Policy Council to develop a local food procurement policy for county
institutions. Expanding local purchasing from area farmers can improve farm profitability while
consumers receive a fresh product that is grown nearby. In 2009, Albany County passed the first
local food procurement policy in the state.
http://www.farmlandinfo.org/documents/37953/Buy_Local_Law_Albany_County_(3).pdf.
In 2010, the New York City Council released a report, FoodWorks, with associated food policy
recommendations http://www.council.nyc.gov/html/action_center/food.shtml.
And in 2011, students in the University of Buffalo Department of Urban and Regional Planning,
under the direction of Dr. Samina Raja, developed a food system assessment for Erie County:
Room at the Table. http://www.farmlandinfo.org/documents/39106/Room_at_the_Table_-
_Food_System_Assessment_of_Erie_County-FINAL.pdf
Implementation:
Timeline: Intermediate Action (3-5 years)
Lead: Food Policy Council
Partners: Healthy Kids Healthy Communities; Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board; Erie
County Farm Bureau; Cornell Cooperative Extension
Potential Funding Sources: NA
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 59
Promote local food purchasing by schools. Concern about the nutritional quality of food
served in school lunches has been well publicized. Connecting schools with local farmers to
improve food quality is a win-win for school children and farmers but is not necessarily an easy
process. Assisting county school districts with efforts to work with farmers and procure local
food can facilitate these partnerships. http://www.farmtoschool.org/state-home.php?id=17
Implementation:
Timeline: Intermediate Action (3-5 years)
Lead: Cornell Cooperative Extension
Partners: Erie County school districts; Erie County Farm Bureau; Field and Fork Network
Potential Funding Sources: NA
Promote farmers markets in the city and county to attract more people to existing markets.
Nationally, the number of farmers markets has quadrupled since 1994 and grew by 17% from
2010 to 2011. Farmers have benefited from an increase in direct market opportunities where
they capture more of the retail dollar while consumers appreciate a local stop to purchase local
farm products. Erie County has 16 farmers markets with additional markets opening each
season, including some that are sponsored by companies to provide a convenient, healthy food
shopping option for employees. A number of Erie County farmers markets offer entertainment,
making them a destination as well as a place to purchase good food. Erie County can encourage
the establishment of new farmers markets in underserved locations in the county so that residents
have a source of fresh, local produce.
Implementation:
Timeline: Intermediate (3-5 years)
Lead: Dept. of Environment and Planning
Partners: Farmers Markets; Cornell Cooperative Extension
Potential Funding Sources: NA
Goal C: Establish an annual county-wide, agricultural event.
Priority Action to educate and inform the public about farms and food production:
Celebrate Erie County farms with a county-wide agricultural event for the general public.
Annually from 1996 to 2003, the Erie County Family, Food, and Farm Tour bused up to 500
adults and children to area farms on a Saturday in September. This farm tour was sponsored by a
collaboration of county agricultural organizations and was well supported by county farms.
Every Father’s Day for 16 years, Saratoga County hosts a public event on a local farm.
http://www.saratogafarms.com/sundae2011page.html Attendance is always over 1,000 people.
Erie County can hold a public event on an annual basis that will showcase what farms in the
county have to offer. The County can also assist towns by publicizing the variety of agricultural
events that occur throughout the County.
Implementation:
Timeline: Immediate (1-2 years)
Lead: Cornell Cooperative Extension; Erie County Farm Bureau
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 60
Partners: Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board; Soil and Water Conservation District;
Natural Resources Conservation Service; American Farmland Trust; Western New York Land
Conservancy; Dept. of Environment and Planning; Erie County Agricultural Society
Potential Funding Sources: Local grants; farm organizations; attendance fees
Support Actions to educate and inform the public about farms and food production:
Work with the Erie County Agricultural Society to promote the Farm2Table school
program. http://www.the-fairgrounds.com/farm2table
The Farm2Table program, sponsored by
the Erie County Agricultural Society and held at the Erie County Fairgrounds, is a free, hands-on
educational field trip for third and fourth graders. Students learn about agriculture to better
understand how food comes from farms to their tables. Advertising and promoting the
Farm2Table field trip to schools can help educate youth about local agriculture.
Implementation:
Timeline: Ongoing
Lead: Erie County Farm Bureau
Partners: Dept. of Environment and Planning; Cornell Cooperative Extension
Potential Funding Sources: NA
Provide support for Erie County Farm Bureau’s efforts to encourage Agriculture in the
classroom curriculum use in Erie County schools. www.agclassroom.org/ny/ Erie County Farm
Bureau also donates a book to area schools and reads in classrooms during Ag Literacy Week
each March.
Implementation:
Timeline: Ongoing
Lead: Erie County Farm Bureau
Partners: Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board
Potential Funding Sources: NA
Goal D: Implement at least four new public policies, or support ongoing policies, that
protect farmland and support the viability of farms in Erie County.
Priority Action to support partner agricultural
organizations, such as Farm Bureau, American
Farmland Trust, and others, with advocacy efforts
that focus on:
Adequate county funding for Cornell Cooperative
Extension http://cceeriecounty.shutterfly.com/, and
the Soil and Water Conservation District
http://www.ecswcd.org/
. Receive regular updates
about county agriculture programs and support these
organizations and programs in the annual county
budget process.
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 61
Implementation:
Timeline: Ongoing
Lead: Dept. of Environment and Planning
Partners: Cornell Cooperative Extension; Soil and Water Conservation District; Erie County
Farm Bureau
Potential Funding Sources: County budget
Support Actions to support partner agricultural organizations, such as Farm Bureau, American
Farmland Trust, and others, with advocacy efforts that focus on:
Increasing the penalty for termination of agricultural assessment. Current penalties often do
not deter removal of farmland from agricultural assessment when a landowner chooses to sell or
develop the land. Additionally, consistent enforcement of agricultural assessment requirements
and penalties is needed. http://www.agriculture.ny.gov/AP/agservices/25-AA.pdf
Implementation:
Timeline: Intermediate Action (3-5 years)
Lead: Dept. of Environment and Planning; Erie County Legislature
Partners: Erie County towns
Potential Funding Sources: NA
Regional planning, especially between Erie and Niagara Counties. The Erie Niagara
Framework for Regional Growth identifies opportunities for shared agricultural planning
between the two counties. Formalizing shared agricultural planning and including other western
New York counties will strengthen farmland protection and farm viability work throughout the
region. Elements from the Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan should be
used in developing the Farmland Protection Policy component to the Framework for Regional
Growth. This will be one of six policy specific components prepared by Erie County as part of
the upcoming phase of the Framework for Regional Growth (2006) document.
http://www2.erie.gov/regionalframework/index.php?q=FrameworkPlan
Adhering to Framework for Regional Growth polices including maintaining growth in areas that
have infrastructure, such as water and sewer lines, rather than extending this infrastructure into
rural areas, will help to protect productive farmland. The DEP has a county policy that limits
sewer extensions outside of Framework for Regional Growth developed areas.
Implementation:
Timeline: Immediate (1-2 years)
Lead: Dept. of Environment and Planning
Partners: Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board; Erie County Legislature
Potential Funding Sources: NA
Identifying, drafting when appropriate, and advocating for county, state, and federal
agricultural policy and legislative changes. Coordinate state and federal advocacy work with
other counties in the region with shared agricultural interests. Engage state and federal elected
officials to advocate as a western New York coalition for these changes.
Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan pg 62
Implementation:
Timeline: Ongoing
Lead: Dept. of Environment and Planning; Erie County Legislature
Partners: State and federal legislators; Erie County Farm Bureau; Agricultural and Farmland
Protection Board
Potential Funding Sources: NA
General:
Priority Actions
At five year intervals, formally review progress in implementing the Agricultural and
Farmland Protection Plan. Evaluate progress based on the identified goals in each strategy and
update goals as needed. Develop a new county Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan at the
ten-year mark.
Implementation:
Timeline: Intermediate (3-5 years) and Long Term (6-10 years)
Lead: Dept. of Environment and Planning; Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board
Partners: Cornell Cooperative Extension; Soil and Water Conservation District; Natural
Resources Conservation District; Erie County Farm Bureau; American Farmland Trust; Western
New York Land Conservancy
Potential Funding Sources: NA
Develop an interactive, web based application of the Erie County Agricultural and
Farmland Protection Plan. Post the Plan on the county website and incorporate links to
examples and websites of interest. Maintain the site as a clearinghouse for agricultural
information and post current items of interest for farmers and county residents.
Implementation:
Timeline: Immediate (1-2 years)
Lead: Dept. of Environment and Planning
Partners: NA
Potential Funding Sources: Dept. of Environment and Planning staff time
Lead Partners Potential Funding Sources
PRIORITY ACTIONS: ONGOING
Incorporate agritourism into countywide
tourism efforts.
Southtowns
Community
Enhancement
Coalition
Buffalo Niagara Convention and
Visitors Bureau Grants
Support adequate county funding for Cornell
Cooperative Extension and the Soil and
Water Conservation District. DEP CCE, SWCD, Erie County FB County budget
Erie County Dept. of Environment and
Planning will offer trainings for local leaders
and volunteers about planning for
agriculture. DEP
Town, CCE, SWCD, NRCS, AFT,
Erie County Dept. of Real Property
Tax Services NA
PRIORITY ACTIONS: IMMEDIATE
Determine the feasibilty of developing an
Erie County purchase of development rights
program. DEP, AFPB WNYLC, AFT, NRCS
County Funds. USDA NRCS Farm and
Ranch Land Protection Program. New
York State Farmland Protection
Program(possibly)
Erie County Dept. of Environment and
Planning will offer trainings for local leaders
and volunteers about planning for
agriculture. DEP
Town, CCE, SWCD, NRCS, AFT,
Erie County Dept. of Real Property
Tax Services NA
Determine the feasibility of developing a
community college agricultural training
program for workforce development. DEP Erie Community College, AFPB ECC, Erie County
Develop a county Food Policy Council that
includes a formal role for the Agricultural
and Farmland Protection Board.
Healthy Kids Healthy
Communities AFPB, AFT NA
Celebrate Erie County farms with a county
-
wide agricultural event for the general
public. CCE, Erie County FB
A
FPB, SWCD, NRCS, AFT,
WNYLC, DEP, Erie County
Agricultural Society
Local grants, farm organizations,
attendance fees
Develop an interactive, web-based
application of the Erie County Agricultural
and Farmland Protection Plan. DEP NA DEP staff time
Table 4: Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan Implementation Matrix
Lead Partners Potential Funding Sources
PRIORITY ACTIONS: INTERMEDIATE
Erie County will calculate the value of
agriculture to the local and regional
economy as part of a complete economic
analysis of agriculture and its multiplier
effects. DEP
University of Buffalo, AFPB, Erie
County Towns As determined by DEP
At five year intervals, formally review
progress in implementing the Agricultural
and Farmland Protection Plan. DEP, AFPB
CCE, SWCD, Erie County FB, AFT,
WNYLC NA
PRIORITY ACTIONS: LONG TERM
At five year intervals, formally review
progress in implementing the Agricultural
and Farmland Protection Plan. DEP, AFPB
CCE, SWCD, Erie County FB, AFT,
WNYLC NA
SUPPORT ACTIONS:ONGOING
Support the agricultural district program. DEP, AFPB Towns NA
Research & develop programs to build an
educated & trained local farm workforce.
CCE, Erie County FB,
DEP AFPB, CCE, Erie County FB, DEP Grants
Promote existing training programs for small
and beginning farmers. CCE NOFA NY, NESAWG, DEP NA
Host farm tours for local officials and
leaders. CCE
DEP, AFPB, Erie County FB, NRCS,
SWCD, AFT
As determined by collaborating
organizations
Help to promote the Erie County Agricultural
Society Farm2Table program Erie County FB DEP, CCE NA
Support Erie County Farm Bureau's Ag in
the Classroom curriculum Erie County FB AFPB NA
Identify, draft, & advocate for county, state,
federal ag policy & legislative changes
DEP, Erie County
Legislature
State and federal legislators, Erie
County FB, AFPB NA
SUPPORT ACTIONS: IMMEDIATE
Collect ag assessment data by town. DEP Towns NA
Support Buffalo's Green Code zoning
update. DEP, AFPB
Massachusetts Avenue Project,
Grassroots Gardens of Buffalo NA
Research & develop programs to build an
educated & trained local farm workforce.
CCE, Erie County FB,
DEP AFPB, CCE, Erie County FB, DEP Grants
Lead Partners Potential Funding Sources
Establish a shovel ready agribusiness park. DEP
BNE, Erie County IDA, Town(s) with
potential sites REDC
Research the feasibility of creating a food
hub for the region.
Field and Fork
Network DEP, Erie County FB USDA, grants
Develop a regional agricultural brand.
Field and Fork
Network CCE NYS Dept. of Agriculture and Markets
Support regional planning especially
between Erie and Niagara Counties DEP AFPB, Erie County Legislature NA
SUPPORT ACTIONS: INTERMEDIATE
Assist towns with term and/or permanent
easement programs. Towns in Erie County DEP, AFPB Town funds.
Develop a ditch maintenance program
topreserve prime farmland
DEP with Dept. of
Public Works AFPB, Towns County and Town funds.
Determine feasibility of a property tax
abatement program for new farmers. Town IDAs DEP, AFPB As determined by Town IDAs
Research & develop programs to build an
educated & trained local farm workforce.
CCE, Erie County FB,
DEP AFPB, CCE, Erie County FB, DEP Grants
Create an IDA Agricultural Specialist
position. Erie County IDA DEP Erie County IDA funds
Work with Food Policy Council to develop a
local food procurement policy. Food Policy Council
Healthy Kids Healthy Communities,
AFPB, Erie County FB, CCE NA
Promote local food purchasing by schools. CCE
Erie County school districts, Erie
County FB, Field & Fork Network NA
Promote farmers markets. DEP Farmers Markets, CCE NA
A
dvocacy support to increase the penalty for
early termination of ag assessment.
DEP, Erie County
Legislature Towns NA
SUPPORT ACTIONS: LONG TERM
Promote western NY as a place to farm. DEP
Erie County FB, CCE, NOFA NY,
western NY organizations Foundation grants
Coordinating agency to issue request for
proposals for aggregation & distribution
Field and Fork
Network Erie County IDA, BNE, DEP USDA, REDC
Research development of an innovation
center for western NY. DEP
AFPB, CCE, other western NY
county planning depts. & ag orgs REDC
Lead Partners Potential Funding Sources
Develop a county program to help farmers
market their agricultural products. CCE Erie County FB Grants
Encourage towns to use Memorandums of
Understanding. DEP Towns NA
IMPLEMENTATION TIMELINE
:
Ongoing: Throughout the 10-year
implementation period.
Immediate: 1-2 years
Intermediate: 3-5 years
Long Term: 5-10 years
ABBREVIATIONS
:
AFPB: Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board
AFT:American Farmland Trust
BNE: Buffalo Niagara Enterprise
CCE: Cornell Cooperative Extension
DEP: Erie County Dept. of Environment and Planning
Erie County FB: Erie County Farm Bureau
IDA: Industrial Development Agency
NESAWG: Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group
NOFA NY: Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York
NRCS: Natural Resources Conservation Service
REDC: Regional Economic Development Council
SWCD: Soil and Water Conservation District
USDA: United States Dept. of Agriculture
WNYLC: Western New York Land Conservancy
APPENDIX
Appendix
Funding Sources Chart
Map methodology
Erie County Right to Farm Law
RP-305 Agricultural Assessment Application
American Farmland Trust:
o Is Your County Planning a Future for Farms checklist
o Cost of Community Services factsheet
Agricultural Districts Law Article 25-AA
AEM Tier 1 Agriculture Interest Links
SWOT Chart
Focus Group Session Summary Notes
Public Hearing Notes
Interviewees
Summaries of Agricultural Planning Documents:
o Town of Eden Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan
o Town of Clarence Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan
o Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan summaries: Towns of Brant, Evans,
and North Collins Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan
o Room at the Table: Food System Assessment of Erie County summary
Web Links:
Farmland Information Center: http://www.farmlandinfo.org/
o Eden Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan
o Clarence Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan
o Brant/Evans/North Collins Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan
o Room at the Table: Food System Assessment of Erie County.
Sowing the Seeds of Southtowns Agribusiness
http://www.regional-
institute.buffalo.edu/Includes/UserDownloads/sowing_finalreport.pdf
NYS Dept. of Agriculture and Markets: Guidance documents
http://www.agriculture.ny.gov/AP/agservices/agdistricts.html
Erie Niagara Framework for Regional Growth
http://www2.erie.gov/regionalframework/index.php?q=FrameworkPlan
Funding Sources
Program Name Program
Description
Eligible
Applicants
Capital
Equipment
Working
Capital
Technical
Assistance
Expected
Due Date
Value-Added
Producer Grant
(USDA):
www.rurdev.usda.go
v/BCP_VAPG_Grant
s.html
This grant program
can be used directly
by farmers and some
intermediaries in the
food system to
support the working
capital finance needs
related to changes in
the market or product
development.
Farmers and
agribusinesses with
risks in production
who are seeking to
change marketing
and/or manufacturing
practices.
No Yes Yes August 2013
Rural Business
Enterprise Grant
(USDA):
www.rurdev.usda.go
v/BCP_rbeg.html
This program can be
accessed by qualified
not-for-profit and
government agencies
to support market
feasibility studies,
business planning,
and other enterprise
development
activities related to
profit making
businesses.
Public bodies and
qualified Exempt
Organizations that
have been through
USDA
Microenterprise
training in
communities with a
population less than
50,000.
Yes Yes Yes April 2013
Rural Business
Opportunity Grant
(USDA):
www.rurdev.usda.go
v/BCP_RBOG.html
This program
provides financial
support to
community level
business assistance
programs.
Public bodies and
qualified Exempt
Organizations that
have been through
USDA
Microenterprise
training in
communities with a
population less than
50,000.
No No Yes July 2013
Community Facility
Grant (USDA):
www.rurdev.usda.go
v/HAD-
RCDI_Grants.html
Communities can
access funds through
this program to
develop community
infrastructure such as
water and sewer
systems to support
economic growth.
Public bodies and
qualified Exempt
Organizations that
have been through
USDA
Microenterprise
training in
communities with a
population less than
50,000.
Yes No No On-going
Specialty Crop Grant
(USDA/NY):
http://www.agricultur
e.ny.gov/AP/slide/Sp
ecialtyCrop.html
www.agriculture.ny.g
ov/RFPS.html
This program is
administered by the
NY Department of
Agriculture and
Markets and is used
to support business
growth,
development,
marketing, and
research in support of
non-program crops.
For-profit and
Exempt
Organizations with a
mission to support
growth in the
specialty crop sector.
Yes Yes Yes April 2013
Program Name Program
Description
Eligible
Applicants
Capital
Equipment
Working
Capital
Technical
Assistance
Expected
Due Date
Rural
Microenterprise
Assistance Program
(USDA):
www.rurdev.usda.go
v/BCP_RMAP.html
This program
provides funding for
government agencies
and not-for-profits
that provide direct
technical and funding
support for
microenterprises.
Public bodies and
qualified Exempt
Organizations that
have been through
USDA
Microenterprise
training in
communities with a
population less than
50,000.
Yes
No
Yes
Ongoing
Farmers’ Market
Promotion Grant
(USDA):
www.ams.usda.gov/
AMSv1.0/FMPP
This program
provides funds to
support direct market
expansion and
market access. Often
used to encourage
greater access to
farmers’ markets by
underserved
populations.
Public bodies and
qualified Exempt
Organizations.
Yes Yes Yes May 2013
Economic
Adjustment
Assistance and
Community Trade
Adjustment
Assistance Grants
(EDA):
http://www.grants.go
v/search/search.do;js
essionid=XfMNPyL
VtKZGfvLW3JwvdS
K5pPRLXhYfvGW9
cMTxNhDKM5Qzm
Z6x%21545677704?
oppId=131493&mod
e=VIEW
Communities
covered by a
Comprehensive
Economic
Development
Strategy, like Erie
County, can access
these funds to
support industrial
and entrepreneurial
development
projects.
Public bodies and
Exempt
Organizations with a
compliant
Comprehensive
Economic
Development
Strategy on file with
EDA.
Yes No Yes Quarterly
New York Buy Local
Campaign:
www.agriculture.ny.g
ov/RFPS.html
This program
supports the
development of
regional branding
programs through
small grants.
Public bodies,
Tourism Boards, and
Exempt
Organizations.
Yes No Yes February
2013
Good Agricultural
Practices (GAP)
Certification
Assistance Program:
www.agriculture.ny.g
ov/RFPS.html
This program
provides financial
assistance to farmers
seeking to develop
GAP plans.
Farmers. No No Yes Ongoing
Program Name Program
Description
Eligible
Applicants
Capital
Equipment
Working
Capital
Technical
Assistance
Expected
Due Date
NY Fresh Connect
Program:
www.agriculture.ny.g
ov/RFPS.html
This program is
designed to fund
projects that increase
access to NY State
grown agricultural
products to low
income and
underserved
communities.
P
ublic bodies, Ma
r
ket
Authorities, Public
Benefit
Corporations, and
Exempt
Organizations.
No Yes Yes April 2013
Northeast Sustainable
Agriculture Research
Education:
Sustainable
Community Grants
http://www.nesare.or
g/Grants/Get-a-
Grant/Sustainable-
Community-Grant
Projects that
strengthen the
position of
sustainable
agriculture as it
affects community
economic
development. Key
issues: finance,
marketing, land use,
water use, enterprise
development, value-
added activities,
labor.
A
griculture oriente
d
organizations and
local governments
with expertise in
sustainable
agriculture enterprise
development.
No Yes Yes October
2013
USDA Natural
Resources
Conservation
Service: Farm and
Ranch Land
Protection Program
http://www.nrcs.usda
.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/
main/national/progra
ms/easements/farmra
nch
Provides matching
funds to help
purchase
development rights
to keep productive
farm and ranchland
in agricultural uses.
Government or non-
governmental entity.
No No No April 2013
2/8/2012
1
ErieCountyAgricultural&
FldPiPl
F
arm
l
an
d
P
rotect
i
on
Pl
an
MethodologyforDetermining
AgriculturalSoils andNatural
Resource Ratings
Resource
Ratings
Thisdocumentdemonstrates
howtheratingsystem
methodologyappliestoasmall
area within Erie County Due
area
within
Erie
County
.
Due
toconfidentialityofthe
croplanddata,the areaisnot
identified.
2/8/2012
2
Thecroplandshapefiles
providedbyNRCSveryclosely
followtheoutlinesoffieldsand
pastures that are visible from
pastures
that
are
visible
from
aerialphotographs.
Parcelsthatincludelessthan
oneacreofcropland/pasture
weredeletedfromthe
Agricultural Parcels list and
Thisparcelcontainscroplandand
isincludedinthelistofAgriculturalParcels
Agricultural
Parcels
list
and
shapefile
Theseparcelswereexcluded
fromthelist.
2/8/2012
3
GISsoftwarecalculatedthe
numberofacresofeach
agriculturalsoilstypewithin
the cropland in each parcel
Prime Soils
Prime Soils if Drained
Soils of Statewide Importanc
e
Agricultural Parcels
Cropland
the
cropland
in
each
parcel
59
47
9
20
6
43
8
15
33
10
7
9 10
10
TheAgriculturalSoilsRatingforeach
parcelwasbasedonthetotalacreageof
croplandineachsoilscategorymultiplied
by a weighting factor:
A
gricultural Parcel
s
49
64
35
75
57
9
2
by
a
weighting
factor:
PrimeSoils:2
PrimeWhenDrained:1.5
SoilsofStatewideImportance:1
Thehighestratingswereforparcelswith
largeareasofcroplandorpasture.
Soils Rating
0.00 - 10.00
10.01 - 40.00
40.01 - 80.00
80.01 - 120.00
120.01 - 400.00
128
45
88
97
35
92
15
3
2/8/2012
4
TheNaturalResourcesRatingwasbased
onthenumberofacreswithineachparcel
ofthefollowingnaturalresourcefeatures:
Within 75 feet of a mapped stream
Within
75
feet
of
a
mapped
stream
FederalorStateWetland,including
100'bufferfromNYSwetlands
Within500feetofLakeErieshoreline
State or Federal Wetland + 100' Buffer, within Agricultural Parcel
s
DEC Wetlands
DEC
Wetlands
Federal Wetlands
75' Stream Buffer within Agricultural Parcels
Streams
Agricultural Parcels
Thesumoftheacreagewithineach
naturalfeature(wetlands,stream
corridor,LakeEriebuffer)constitutesthe
Natura l Resources Rating. No weighting
0
0
10
6
0
5
2
6
0
0
0
0
0
0 00
Needtoupdatetoinclude
Federalwetlandinfo
Natura l
Resources
Rating.

No
weighting
factorswereused.
ParcelswithhigherNaturalResources
ratingshavemorelandwithinastream
corridororwetland.Inareasoutsideof
theoneshown,highlyrankedparcelsare
locatednearLakeErie.
21
7
2
11
2
Agricultural Parcels
Natural Resources Rating
0.00 - 4.00
4.01 - 8.00
8.01 - 20.00
20.01 - 40.00
40.01 - 600.00
21
9
6
7
6
0
12
0
Erie County right to farm law
COUNTY OF ERIE
LOCAL LAW NO. 1- 1999
A LOCAL LAW in relation to the right to farm in the county of Erie.
Section 1. Title. This local law shall be known as the "Erie county right to farm
law".
Section 2. Legislative policy. The Erie county legislature hereby finds, declares,
and determines that farming is important to Erie county because it is a major
occupation within the county, providing a livelihood and employment for
thousands of residents; farming remains the single-largest industry in New York
state; farming provides locally produced, fresh commodities; agricultural
diversity promotes economic stability; agriculture promotes open space and
promotes environmental quality; agricultural land does not increase the demand
for services provided by county or local governments. In order to maintain a
viable agricultural economy in Erie county, farmers must be afforded protection
allowing them the right to farm. When non-agricultural land uses extend into
agricultural areas, agricultural operations may become the subject of nuisance
lawsuits. As a result, agricultural operations are sometimes forced to cease
operations or are discouraged from making investments in farm improvements.
It is the policy of the county to reduce the loss of agricultural resources by
limiting the circumstances under which agricultural and residential purposes
may conflict and to allow agricultural practices inherent to and necessary for the
business of farming to proceed and be undertaken free of unreasonable and
unwarranted interference or restriction.
The county legislature finds, declares and determines that chapter 797 of the
laws of 1992 provides an important foundation for achieving the right to farm
protection sought in Erie county and that in order to address the unique
circumstances facing agriculture in Erie county, it is necessary to provide for
more comprehensive local right to farm protection.
Section 3. Definitions. As used in this local law, the following terms shall have
the following meanings:
"Agricultural practices" shall mean all activities conducted by a farmer on a
farm to produce agricultural products and which are inherent and necessary to
the operation of a farm including, but not limited to, the collection,
transportation, distribution, storage and land application of animal wastes;
storage, transportation and use of equipment for tillage, planting, harvesting,
irrigation, fertilization and pesticide application; storage and use of legally
permitted fertilizers, limes and pesticides all in accordance with local, state and
federal law and regulations and in accordance with manufacturers' instructions
and warnings; storage, use and application of animal feed and foodstuffs;
construction and use of farm structures and facilities for the storage of animal
wastes, farm equipment, pesticides, fertilizers, agricultural products and
livestock, for the processing of animal wastes and agricultural products, for the
sale of agricultural products, and for the use of farm labor, as permitted by local
and state building codes and regulations; including construction and
maintenance of fences and lanes;
"Agricultural products" shall mean those products as defined in subdivision 2 of
section 301 of the agriculture and markets law;
"Farm" shall mean the land, buildings and machinery usable in the production,
whether for profit or otherwise, of agricultural products;
"Farmer" shall mean any person, organization, entity, association, partnership or
corporation engaged in the raising of crops, or the raising of livestock or livestock
products as defined in subdivision 2 of section 301 of the agriculture and markets
law, or the business of agriculture, whether for profit or otherwise, including the
cultivation of land, the raising of poultry, fish, or fur-bearing animals, the
harvesting of timber or the practice of horticulture, aquaculture, apiculture or
viticulture; "Generally accepted agricultural practices" shall mean those practices
which are lawful, customary, reasonable, safe and necessary to the industry as
they pertain to the practices listed in subdivision a of section 3 of this local law.
Section 4. Right to farm declaration.
Farmers, as well as those employed, retained or otherwise authorized to act on
behalf of farmers, may lawfully engage in agricultural practices within Erie
county at all such times and all such locations as are reasonably necessary to
conduct the business of agriculture. For any agricultural practice, in determining
the reasonableness of the time, place and methodology of such practice, due
weight and consideration shall be given both to traditional customs and
procedures in the farming industry as well as to advances resulting from
increased knowledge and improved technologies.
Agricultural practices conducted on farmland shall not violate the public policy
of Erie county if such agricultural practices are: (i) reasonable and necessary to
the particular farm or farm operation; (ii) conducted in a manner which is not
negligent or reckless; (iii) conducted in conformity with generally accepted
agricultural practices; (iv) conducted in conformity with all local, state and
federal laws, ordinances and regulations; (v) conducted in a manner which does
not constitute a threat to public health and safety or cause injury to health and
safety of any person; and (vi) conducted in a manner which does not
unreasonably obstruct the free passage or use of navigable waters or public
roadways.
Nothing in this local law shall be construed to prohibit an aggrieved party from
recovering damages for bodily injury or wrongful death due to negligence or
recklessness.
Section 5. Real Property Sale Disclosure Notice.
When any purchase and sale contract is presented for the sale, purchase, or
exchange of residential real property located within the county of Erie, the
contract of sale shall include a disclosure notice, which states the following:
It is the policy of Erie county 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. This disclosure
notice is to inform prospective residents that farming activities occur within Erie
county. Such farming activities may include, but not be limited to, activities that
cause noise, dust, fumes, odors, smoke, insects, operation of machinery during
any hour of the day or evening, storage and disposal of plant and animal waste
products, and the application of fertilizers, soil amendments, and pesticides by
ground or aerial spraying or other method. Property owners and residents of Erie
county should be aware that farmers have the right to undertake generally
accepted practices and one should expect such conditions as a normal and
necessary aspect of living in an agricultural area.
The failure to include such disclosure notice shall not affect the validity of such
purchase and sale contract.
Section 6. Severability. If any clause, sentence, paragraph or section of this
local law shall be adjudged by any court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid,
such adjudication shall not affect, impair, or invalidate the remainder thereof,
but shall be confined in its operation to the clause, sentence, paragraph, or
section thereof directly involved in the proceeding or action in which such
adjudication has been rendered.
Section 7. Review committee. No later than December 31, 2000, the chairman
of the Erie county legislature shall appoint and convene a review committee to
evaluate this local law. The review committee shall be comprised of a cross-
section of the community that will include, but not be limited to representatives
of the legislature and other appropriate representatives. The review committee
shall provide the legislature with its findings and recommendations with respect
to this local law no later than the first day of July 2001.
Section 8. This local law shall be effective the first day of January 2000.
CHARLES M. SWANICK
FREDERICK J. MARSHALL
WILLIAM A. PAULY
JEANNE Z. CHASE
JUDITH P. FISHER
BARRY A. WEINSTEIN, MD
MICHAEL H. RANZENHOFER
GEORGE A. HOLT, JR.
ALBERT DEBENEDETTI
CRYSTAL D. PEOPLES
GREGORY B. OLMA
LYNN M. MARINELLI
JOHN W. GREENAN
DALE W. LARSON
RAYMOND K. DUSZA
MICHAEL A. FITZPATRICK
EDWARD J. KUWIK
RP-305 (12/11) (Update)
NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF TAXATION & FINANCE
OFFICE OF REAL PROPERTY TAX SERVICES
AGRICULTURAL ASSESSMENT PROGRAM
UPDATE
Notice: To Landowners applying for an Agricultural Assessment
By filing this application, the landowner agrees that the lands that benefit from an agricultural assessment
will be liable for payment in the event that the land is converted to a nonagricultural use. This provision is
explained below.
CONSEQUENCE OF CONVERTING LAND TO A NONAGRICULTURAL USE:
The consequence of a conversion is a payment based on five times the taxes saved in the most recent year of
benefit. The payment also includes a six percent interest charge compounded annually for each year during
the last five, in which the land received an agricultural assessment. An encumbrance for this potential
payment runs with the land from the last time the parcel benefited for five years in an Agricultural District
and for eight years outside a district.
For land located outside an agricultural district the obligation to make a payment for conversion creates a lien
against the entire parcel, even if only a portion of the parcel benefited from the agricultural assessment.
Recent Program Changes
The land under an “agricultural amusement” such as a corn maze or a hay bale maze may be eligible for
an agricultural assessment if the maze is produced from crops grown on the farm and those crops are
harvested and marketed in the same manner as other crops that are produced on the farm.
“Commercial equine operations” have been included in the definition of “farm operations” for purposes
of the Agricultural Districts Law. Such a change now enables such enterprises to receive agricultural
assessments and gain agricultural district protections. To be a commercial equine operation for this
purpose, the enterprise must consist of at least seven acres, must stable at least 10 horses, regardless of
ownership, and must receive at least $10,000 in gross receipts annually from fees generated through (1)
commercial equine activities including, but not limited to riding lessons, trail riding activities or training
of horses but not horse racing or through (2) the production for sale of crops, livestock, and
livestock products, or through both (1) and (2). An otherwise eligible enterprise that is proposed or in its
first or second year of operation may qualify as a commercial equine operation if it consists of at least
seven acres and stables at least 10 horses, regardless of ownership, by the end of the first year of
operation.
This brief explanation of major provisions of the amended agricultural districts law should be fully
understood by you prior to application. If you do not understand, contact your attorney.
RP-305 (12/11)
NYS DEPARTMENT OF TAXATION & FINANCE
OFFICE OF REAL PROPERTY TAX SERVICES
AGRICULTURAL ASSESSMENT APPLICATION
FOR THE 20__ ASSESSMENT ROLL
Renewal Form RP-305-r may be filed with the Assessor for each year hereafter if this application is approved and there are no changes
in any
information entered on this application form.
TO BE COMPLETED BY THE ASSESSOR
Application Date Tax Map Number Exemption Amount
$
Exemption Code
41720-County Formed Ag. Dist.
41730-Outside Ag. District
41750-New orchard/vineyard
Soil maps filed on ____/____/____
Soil group worksheet filed on ____/____/____
Soil map or soil worksheet modification (use RP-305-d) ____/____/____ ____/____/____
Sent Received
Property located in an established agricultural district? Yes No
Form RP-305-a sent
_______________________________________________________________________________ _____/_____/_____
Assessor’s Signature Date
INFORMATION TO BE COMPLETED BY APPLICANT
Tax Map Number Acres Is parcel in an agricultural district? Yes No
If Yes, provide County District Number _____________________
Mailing Address Property Location
Landowner Name
Number and Street
City State ZIP Code
Telephone: Day No. __________________
Evening No. __________________
Email address (optional) __________________
Same as Mailing Address (check)
Or
Number and Street
City State ZIP Code
County Town Village
CERTIFICATION OF APPLICANT
I, __________________________________ certify that the information entered on this application constitutes a true
statement of facts to the best of my knowledge and that all lands described are used for the purposes stated herein. I have
read the notice page explaining the consequences for converting land to a nonagricultural use and understand that conversion
of this parcel may subject it to payments based upon the amount of taxes saved.
_______________________________________ _________________________________________
Date Signature of Owner
PENALTY FOR FALSE STATEMENTS: A person making false statements on an application for exemption is guilty of an offense
punishable by law.
(Continued on next page)
RP-305 (12/11) Page 2
General information can be found on pages 6 and 7. Instructions for the completion of Parts 1 though 9 can be found on pages 7, 8
and 9 of this form. All applicants must complete Parts 1 and 9. Applicants seeking an agricultural assessment for land used to support
a commercial horse boarding operation must complete Part 5. Applicants seeking similar benefits on land used to support a
commercial equine operation must complete Part 6. Applicants whose land was rented and used in the preceding two years to produce
for sale crops, livestock or livestock products, but which does not independently satisfy the gross sales value requirement of the
Agriculture and Markets Law, must complete Part 8. Complete all other Parts that apply.
Part 1. Use of Land: Refer to Soil Group Worksheet (APD-1) to complete Part 1.
(1) Agricultural Land
a. Land used to produce crops, livestock or livestock products. Amount of land actually used to produce for
sale crops, livestock or livestock products (not including woodland products) in the preceding two years.
a.
Acres
b. Land used to support a commercial horse boarding operation. Amount of land used to support a
commercial horse boarding operation during the past two years.
b.
Acres
c. Land used to support a commercial equine operation. Amount of land used to support a commercial
equine operation equine operation during the past two years.
c.
Acres
d. Support Land. Amount of land which was not used to produce crops, livestock or livestock products but was
used in support of the farm operation or in support of land used to produce crops, livestock or livestock
products. (Does not include land used under agricultural amusements see instructions).
d.
Acres
e. Land participating in federal conservation program. Amount of land set aside through participation in a
U.S. government conservation program established pursuant to Title 1 of the Federal Food Security Act of
1985 or any subsequent federal program. (Assessor will need Farm Service Agency documentation.)
e.
Acres
f. Land under a structure in which crops, livestock or livestock products are produced. Amount of land
located under a structure in which crops, livestock or livestock products have been produced during the
preceding two years.
f.
Acres
TOTAL acres in agricultural land (sum of a, b, c, d, e, f)
(1)
Acres
(2) Farm Woodland (up to 50 acres) Amount of land used for the production for sale of woodland products in the
preceding two years. Acreage consisting of sugarbush or Christmas tree cultivation should be included in Part
(1)a above.
(2)
Acres
(3) Excess Farm Woodland (woodland exceeding 50 acre limit on any parcel)
(3)
Acres
(4) Newly planted orchards, vineyards or Christmas trees of a newly established farm operation.
(4)
Acres
(5) Nonagricultural land. Include any land in the parcel which is not included above
(5)
Acres
TOTAL acres in parcel (The figure entered in this box should equal the sum of the amounts entered in the boxes 1, 2,
3, 4, and 5 above.)
Acres
Part 2. Other agricultural land owned by the applicant: Identify any other land owned by the applicant which is used in conjunction
with land identified in Part 1 above to produce crops, livestock or livestock products or to support a commercial horse boarding or
commercial equine operation. Use additional sheets if necessary.
Tax Map No.____________________________ Location __________________________________ No. of Acres ________________
Tax Map No.____________________________ Location __________________________________ No. of Acres ________________
Part 3. Other agricultural property rented by applicant: Identify any other land rented from another and used to produce crops,
livestock or livestock products in conjunction with the land described in Part 1 above. Use additional sheets if necessary.
Tax Map No.____________________________ Location __________________________________ No. of Acres ________________
(Continued on next page)
RP-305 (12/11) Page 3
Part 4. Average gross sales value:
Note: Newly established farm operations should enter annual gross sales only for the first or second year of production.
Year One
Year Two
a. Enter the gross sales value of any agricultural products (not including woodland products) produced for sale in the
preceding two years on land owned by the applicant (see Part (1) a and Part (2). For land rented by the applicant
from another see Part 3. (Include federal farm program payments if applicable.)
a $ $
b. Enter the gross sales value up to a maximum annual amount of $2,000 of any woodland products produced for sale
in the preceding two years on land owned by the applicant (see Part 1 (2) and Part 2). Note: The gross sales value
of maple syrup/sap and Christmas trees produced on the applicant’s land should be included in Part 4a above.
b
$
$
c. Enter the market value of crops in their unprocessed state which were produced during the preceding two years on
land owned by the applicant or rented by the appli
cant from another which were not sold unprocessed but were
processed on the farm to make other products and thereafter sold.
c
$
$
d.
Enter the gross sales value up to a maximum of $5,000 of the farm operation’s annual gross sales value derived
from the operation’s sale of its compost, mulch or other organic biomass crops.
d
$
$
TOTAL GROSS SALES VALUE FOR TWO YEAR PERIOD
$
$
TWO YEAR AVERAGE GROSS SALES VALUE
$
$
Part 5. Land used to support a commercial horse boarding operation:
(a) Number of acres in parcel used to support a horse boarding operation: ________________ acres.
If the number of acres is less than seven, Part 2 above must be completed to establish eligibility for an agricultural assessment.
(b) Did the boarding operation board ten or more horses throughout the preceding two years? Yes No
(c) Gross receipts collected by horse boarding operation during the preceding two years $
Note: Newly established farm operations should enter annual gross sales only for the first or second year of production.
Year one
Year two
Fees generated through boarding of horses
$
$
Fees generated through production of sale of crops, livestock and livestock products
$
$
TOTALS
$ $
Part 6. Land used to support a commercial equine operation
(a) Number of acres in parcel used to support an equine operation: _____________ acres.
If the number of acres is less than seven, Part 2 above must be completed to establish eligibility for an agricultural assessment.
(b) Did the equine operation stable ten or more horses throughout the preceding two years? Yes No
(c) Gross receipts collected by equine operations during the preceding two years? $______________________
Note: Newly established farm operations should enter annual gross sales only for the first or second year of production.
Year one
Year two
Fees generated through equine operations
$
$
Fees generated through production of sale of crops, livestock and livestock products
$
$
TOTALS
$ $
Part 7. Land under a structure within which crops, livestock or livestock products are produced:
Note: Newly established farm operations should enter annual gross sales only for the first or second year of production.
Year one
Year two
(a) Gross sales value of the crops, livestock or livestock products produced in the
structure(s) in the preceding two years
(b)
$
(c)
$
(d) Total gross sales value for two year period (b) + (c)
(d)
$
(e) Average gross sales value for preceding two years (d / 2) (e)
$
(Continued on next page)
RP-305 (12/11) Page 4
Part 8: Land rented to others:
(a) Is any portion of the parcel rented to another party? Yes No (If the answer is No, proceed to Part 9 on page 4.)
(b) Has the land been used during the preceding two years to produce crops, livestock or livestock products exclusive of woodland
products and is such production continuing during the current year?
Yes No
(c) Average gross sales value: $
Note: Newly established farm operations should enter annual gross sales only for the first or second year of production.
Year one
Year two
1. Gross sales value of the crops, livestock or livestock products (exclusive of woodland
products) produced on the rented land which can be independently verified
(a)
$
(b)
$
2. Total gross sales value for two year period (a) + (b) (c)
$
3. Average gross sales value for preceding two years (c / 2) (d)
$
If amount is less than $10,000 or cannot be independently verified, complete items d, e, f and g of Part 8 below.
(d) Name and mailing address of party to whom land is rented:
(e) Number of acres rented to party identified in Part 8d and used in agricultural production: ______________ (acres).
(f) Is the land leased pursuant to a written rental arrangement? Yes No
Period of time for which lease is in effect: ______ years
Attach a copy of the lease or an affidavit (Form RP-305-c) attesting to the existence of the lease.
(g) Does the party to whom the land is rented own or operate other land that is used in conjunction with this rented land and which
qualifies for an agricultural assessment?
Yes No
If the answer is Yes, provide the following information for the other land being used in conjunction with the land which is the
subject of this application.
Owner: ______________________________________________________________________________________________
Location of property: __________________________________________ Tax Map No.: ___________________________
If the other land is located in a different town or assessing unit, enter the date that an application for an agricultural assessment was
submitted to the local assessor: ___________________________________________
(Continued on next page)
RP-305 (12/11) Page 5
Part 9. Certified Value on Eligible Agricultural Lands:
The applicant must complete column 2 below of the chart “CERTIFIED VALUE ON ELIGIBLE AGRICULTURAL LANDS.” The
number of acres in each mineral or organic soil group is to be copied from the soil group worksheet APD-1 prepared by the Soil and
Water Conservation District Office. Note: The number of acres of qualified farm woodland is given on the soil group worksheet. The
maximum number of acres of farm woodland eligible for an agricultural assessment is 50 acres per parcel. Where the applicant
completes Part 8d through 8g on page 3, the total number of acres in the mineral and organic soil groups may not exceed the number
of acres indicated in Part 8e, and the number of acres of farm woodland must be zero.
CERTIFIED VALUE ON ELIGIBLE AGRICULTURAL LANDS
Applicant, please fill in shaded area of column 2.
APPLICANT
ASSESSOR’S USE ONLY
1
2
3
4
5
MINERAL SOIL GROUP ACRES
ACRE/RATING
MODIFICATIONS
CERTIFIED
VALUE PER ACRE
COL. 2 OR 3
TIMES COL. 4
1
a
b
2
a
b
3
a
b
4
a
b
5
a
b
6
a
b
7
8
9
10
ORGANIC SOIL GROUP
(MUCK)
A
B
C
D
SOIL GROUP TOTAL
ELIGIBLE
FARM WOODLAND
50 ACRES MAXIMUM
Newly Planted Orchards,
Vineyards or Christmas Trees
0
0
TOTAL ELIGIBLE ACRES
TOTAL CERTIFIED VALUE
ASSESSOR’S USE ONLY
Assessor’s agricultural assessment calculation on eligible agricultural lands
Total Certified Value x Equalization Rate = Total Agricultural Assessment
_________________ x ______________ = _________________________
Additional Calculations:
RP-305 (12/11) Page 6
ASSESSOR’S USE ONLY
WORKSHEET FOR APPORTIONMENT OF FARM ASSESSMENT
Assessor may use RPS 4 to complete these calculations.
ACRES
LAND
IMPROVEMENTS
TOTAL
A. Total Assessment
$ $ $
B. Assessed Value of Parcel Excluding Eligible
Agricultural Land
1. Owner’s residence and associated land
2. Farm structures (barns and other farm
improvements including fruit tree/vine
support structures) not qualified for
RPTL Sec. 483 exemption...........................
3. Other structures (processing plant, retail
store, etc.)
4. Ineligible land
(include excess woodland acreage)
5. Total (lines 1, 2, 3 and 4)
________
…….….
________
________
________
$____________
…………………
____________
$____________
$_______________
$_______________
$_______________
$_____________
$_____________
$_____________
$_____________
$_____________
C. Agricultural Assessment of Parcel
1. Assessed value of eligible land before
agricultural assessment (line A minus line B5)
2. Assessed value of fruit tree/vine support
structures on eligible land not qualified for
RPTL Sec. 483 exemption
3. Total lines C1 and C2
4. Total agricultural assessment on eligible
land (from page 4)
5. Excess value, if any (line 3 minus line 4)
$_____________
$_____________
$_____________
$_____________
$_____________
D. Total Taxable Assessment Before Adjustment
for Other Exemptions (line B5 plus line C1 or
B5 plus line C4, whichever is lower)
$_____________
E. Other Exemptions
1. Veterans
2. RPTL Sec. 483 New Construction
3. RPTL Sec. 483-a
4. Other
5. Total
$_____________
$_____________
$_____________
$_____________
$_____________
F. Total Taxable Assessed Value
(line D minus line E5)
$_____________
G. 1. Application Approved
2. Approved as Modified
3. Disapproved
Reason for Modification or Disapproval _______________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________________________
Amount of Exemption (from line C5 of Apportionment Worksheet above)
Enter this amount in exempt column of assessment roll, and on top of page 1, $_______________
Clear Form
RP-305 (12/11) Page 7
GENERAL INFORMATION AND FILING REQUIREMENTS
Extent of exemption. The agricultural assessment value per
acre certified by the Office of Real Property Tax Services
when equalized by the assessor becomes an agricultural
assessment. If the application is approved, the portion of the
assessed value of eligible agricultural lands which exceeds the
agricultural assessment, if any, will be exempt. No exemption
results unless the assessed value of land described in the
application exceeds its agricultural assessment.
Application. To qualify agricultural land for an agricultural
assessment, the landowner must annually file an application
for each separately assessed parcel with the local assessor. If
an initial application is approved and an agricultural
assessment granted, renewal Form RP-305-r may be filed in
succeeding years to renew the application provided no
changes regarding the parcel have occurred since the last
submission of Form RP-305. A soil group worksheet and soil
map prepared by the Soil and Water Conservation District
Office must be filed as part of the application, unless as a
result of a prior application, the assessor has a soil group
worksheet and soil map on file which accurately describes the
parcel. A landowner may exclude from the applications any
portion of a parcel which is capable of being separately
identified.
Place of filing application. The application must be filed
with the city, town or village assessor (if the village assesses).
If the property is located in a village that assesses, an
application must be filed with both the town and the village
assessor. In Nassau and Tompkins Counties, the application
must be filed with the county assessors.
Time of filing application. The application must be filed on
or before the taxable status date of the city, town or village (if
the village assesses). EXCEPTIONS: In year of a
revaluation or update of assessments, the application may be
filed with the assessor no later than the thirtieth day prior to
the day by which the tentative assessment roll is required to be
filed by law. In the case of land located within an agricultural
district, the application may be filed with the assessor no later
than the last date on which an assessment complaint may be
filed when (1) a licensed physician certifies that the failure to
file the application by taxable status date resulted from the
death of the applicant’s spouse, child, parent, brother or sister,
or the illness of the applicant or the applicant’s spouse, child,
parent, brother or sister; or (2) the failure to file the
application by taxable status date resulted from the occurrence
of a natural disaster, including, but not limited to, a flood, or
the destruction of the applicant’s residence, barn or other farm
building by wind, fire or flood.
Notice of approval, denial or modification of application.
The applicant must provide the assessor with a stamped, self-
addressed envelope at the time of application in order to
receive notice of the approval, denial or modification of the
application.
ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR AGRICULTURAL ASSESSMENT
1. Agricultural land is eligible for an agricultural assessment
if it satisfies all the requirements set forth in any one of the
following alternatives:
(A) The land consists of at least seven acres which have
been used to produce crops, livestock or livestock products for
sale in the preceding two years.
The crops, livestock or livestock products produced on
such land, including land rented by the applicant from another
and used in conjunction with agricultural land owned by the
applicant, must have an average gross sales value of at least
$10,000 for the two years preceding the application.
Whenever a crop is processed prior to sale, average gross sales
value shall be based upon the market value of the crop in its
unprocessed state.
or
(B) The land consists of less than seven acres which have
been used to produce crops, livestock or livestock products for
sale in the preceding two years.
The crops, livestock or livestock products produced
on such land, and on any land rented by the applicant from
another and used in conjunction with the applicant’s land to
produce for sale crops, livestock or livestock products, must
have an average gross sales value of at least $50,000 for the
two years preceding the application. For a crop processed
prior to sale, the average gross sales value shall be based upon
the market value of the crop in its unprocessed state.
or
(C) The land consists of at least seven acres and has been
used during the preceding two years to support a commercial
horse boarding operation with annual gross receipts of
$10,000 or more.
A commercial horse boarding operation is defined as
an agricultural enterprise consisting of at least seven acres and
boarding at least ten horses, regardless of ownership, which
receives $10,000 or more in gross receipts annually from fees
generated through the boarding of horses, the production for
sale of crops, livestock or livestock products, or both such
boarding and such production.
or
(D) The land consists of at least seven acres of which all
or part has been set aside through participation in a U.S.
government conservation program established pursuant to
Title 1 of the Federal Food Security Act of 1985 or any
subsequent federal farm program. No minimum gross sales is
required for the participating lands. Non-participating lands
still must meet the $10,000 gross sales minimum and federal
program payments may be applied to establish the minimum
gross sales value.
or
(E) The land used in agricultural production is a newly
established farm operation and has annual gross sales of
$10,000 and seven or more acres in agricultural production, or
annual gross sales of $50,000 and less than seven such acres,
in the first or second year of production, and meets the other
RP-305 (12/11) Page 8
eligibility requirements of A, B, or C above. If the newly
established farm is a commercial horse boarding operation, no
less than seven acres must be used to support the horse
boarding operation, at least ten horses must be boarded, and
the operation must have annual gross receipts of $10,000 or
more.
or
(F) The land used in agricultural production consists of at
least seven acres, is owned or rented by a newly established
farm operation, and is used solely for the production for sale
of orchard or vineyard crops or Christmas trees. Such land
may be eligible for an agricultural assessment, not-
withstanding the fact that the new orchard or vineyard does
not produce crops for sale for four years after planting or the
Christmas trees are not harvested for sale for five years after
planting.
or
(G) The land used in agricultural production supports an
apiary products operation, is owned by the operation, and
consists of not less than seven and not more than ten acres
with an average gross sales value of $10,000 or more, or
comprises less than seven acres with an average gross sales
value of $50,000 or more.
or
(H) Rented land located within an agricultural district
used by a not for profit institution for agricultural research
intended to improve the quality or quantity of crops, livestock
or livestock products.
or
(I) The land consists of at least seven acres and has been
used during the preceding two years to support a commercial
equine operation with annual receipts of $10,000 or more. A
commercial equine operation is defined as an agricultural
enterprise consisting of at least seven acres and stabling at
least ten horses, regardless of ownership that receives $10,000
or more in gross receipts annually from fees generated through
1) the provisions of commercial equine activities including but
not limited to riding lessons, trail riding activities or training
horses (but not horse racing), 2) production for the sale of
crops, livestock and livestock products, or through both 1) and
2). An otherwise eligible operation proposed in its first or
second year of operation may qualify as a commercial
operation if it consists of at least seven acres and stables at
least ten horses, regardless of ownership, by the end of the
first year of operation.
2. Agricultural land rented to another and used during the
preceding two years to produce for sale crops, livestock or
livestock products, but which does not independently satisfy
the gross sales value of the Agriculture and Markets Law, may
nevertheless be eligible for an agricultural assessment, if the
following conditions are satisfied:
- The land must consist of at least seven acres and be used
as part of a single operation to produce crops, livestock
or livestock products (exclusive of woodland products)
in the preceding two years;
- The land must currently be used to produce crops,
livestock or livestock products (exclusive of woodland
products) under a written rental arrangement of five or
more years; and
- The land must be used in conjunction with other land
which qualifies for an agricultural assessment.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR APPLICANT
For Questions on page 2
Part 1 Use of Land
For Part 1, the data from the Soil Group Worksheet
(APD-1) should be used. Further breakdowns of the
“(1) Agricultural Land” category by land use should be
shown in (1) a through (1) f explained below.
(1) a. Land actually used to produce crops, livestock or
livestock products may include cropland, muck, orchards,
vineyards and pasture. For this purpose crops, livestock and
livestock products include, but are not limited to, the
following: field crops, fruits, vegetables, horticultural
specialties, Christmas trees, cattle, horses, poultry, ratites,
wool bearing animals such as alpacas and llamas, milk, eggs,
furs, maple sap or syrup, honey, beeswax, royal jelly, bee
pollen, propolis, package bees, nucs, queens, aquacultural
products and woody biomass.
(1) b. Land used to support a commercial horse boarding
operation. Amount of land used to support a commercial
horse boarding operation during the past two years.
(1) c. Land used to support a commercial equine
operation. Amount of land used to support a
commercial equine operation during the past two years.
(1) d. Support land may include farm ponds, swamps used
for drainage, land used for erosion control, hedgerows,
access roads, land under farm buildings, dikes and levies
used for flood protection, drainage ditches and land used
for farm waste management. Support land may also
include any other minor acreage that is located amid,
between or on the perimeter of cropland, orchards,
vineyards and land used to pasture livestock, so long as
the land is not farm woodland or nonagricultural land
(see instructions below for line (1) e.). Support land
further may include a buffer area owned and maintained
by an apiary products operation between the operation
and adjacent landowners. (The total area of an apiary
products operation, including support land, may not
exceed ten acres. (Support land does not include land
used under agricultural amusements).
RP-305 (12/11)
(1) e. Land participating in federal conservation program.
Amount of land set aside through participation in a U.S.
government conservation program established pursuant to
Title 1 of the Federal Food Security Act of 1985 or any
subsequent federal program.
(1) f. Land under a structure in which crops, livestock or
livestock products are produced. Amount of land located
under a structure in which crops, livestock or livestock
products have been produced during the preceding two years.
(1) Agricultural Land - total from Soil Group
Worksheet.
(2) Farm woodland means land, primarily used for the
production for sale of woodland products (logs, lumber, posts,
firewood, etc.), where such land is used as a single operation
and is contiguous with cropland, orchards, vineyards or land
used to pasture livestock. Lands divided by state, county or
town roads, railroads or energy transmission corridors will be
considered contiguous. Woodland acreage exceeding 50 acres
on any parcel should be in Part 1 (3), excess farm woodland.
Enter number of acres from section D (2) of the Soil Group
Worksheet.
(3) Excess Farm Woodland (over 50 acres) - enter
number of acres from section D (3) of the Soil Group
Worksheet.
(4) Newly Planted Orchards, Vineyards or Christmas
Trees of a Newly Established Farm Operation. Land of not
less than seven acres used solely by a newly established farm
operation for new orchards or vineyards may qualify for an
agricultural assessment for four years after planting,
notwithstanding the fact that no crops are produced for sale.
Land of not less than seven acres used solely by such a farm
operation for new Christmas trees may qualify for an
agricultural assessment for five years after planting,
notwithstanding the fact that no trees are harvested for sale.
Eligible fruit trees, grape vines or Christmas trees may be
planted in the new farm’s first or second year of operation.
(5) Nonagricultural land - Ineligible land uses,
including but not limited to the following: landowner’s
residence and lot, gravel quarry or other mineral, oil or natural
gas extraction, commercial hunting and game preserves as
well as any other commercial recreational uses such as
camping and athletic facilities and parks, retail establishments
of any kind including restaurants, lodging facilities and
roadside stands used for sale of crops, livestock, or livestock
products, processing facilities, sawmills, and fertilizer plants.
Nonagricultural land does not include qualified farm
woodland or support land. Also, any acreage withheld from
the agricultural assessment program by the landowner should
be entered in the nonagricultural category.
Page 9
Part 2. Other agricultural land owned by the applicant.
Land contained within separately assessed parcels owned by
the applicant and used for agricultural production in
conjunction with the subject parcel is considered part of the
applicant’s farm unit for purposes of satisfying any minimum
acreage or gross sales requirements.
Part 3. Other agricultural land rented by the applicant.
The gross sales value of agricultural products produced on
land rented by the applicant from another person and used in
conjunction with the subject parcel may be included when
determining whether the gross sales requirement is satisfied.
Note: For parts 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8 newly established farm
operations should enter annual gross sales only for the first
or second year of production.
Part 4. Average Gross Sales Value. To qualify for an
agricultural assessment, an applicant must show that the crops,
livestock or livestock products produced for sale in the
preceding two years on the land for which application is being
made had an average gross sales value of at least $10,000.
Gross sales value may include sales of agricultural products or
market value of crops
processed prior to sale in their
unprocessed state produced on (1) agricultural land described
in this application; (2) other parcels owned by the applicant
and used in conjunction with the subject parcel; and (3) land
rented by the applicant from another person and used in
conjunction with the subject parcel. Also, certain federal farm
program and thoroughbred breeder payments may be included.
To calculate average gross sales value for the preceding two
years the applicant should add the actual gross receipts derived
from the sale, or, where applicable, the market value of
agricultural products produced on the land described above,
and divide the sum by two. Sales are to be reported on the
basis of the most recent two income tax years prior to the date
of the application. Market value should be based on the value
at time of harvest in the preceding two years. The assessor
may ask for substantiation of gross sales value, which may be
made by bookkeeping records, income tax returns, types of
crops used for processing, etc.
NOTE: If an Act of God, natural disaster or continued
adverse weather conditions results in the destruction of a
significant portion of the agricultural production on any of the
property for which application is being made such that the
average gross sales value of the two preceding years is less
than $10,000, the applicant is advised to submit with this
application a completed Form RP-305-b: Application for
Exception From Minimum Average Gross Sales Value
Requirement, of Article 25AA of the Agricultural and Markets
Law.
RP-305 (12/11)
For Questions on Page 3
Part 5. Land used to support a commercial horse
boarding operation. “Commercial horse boarding operation
means an agricultural enterprise, consisting of at least seven
acres and boarding at least ten horses regardless of ownership,
that receives ten thousand dollars ($10,000) or more in gross
receipts annually from fees generated either through the
boarding of horses, the production for sale of crops, livestock,
and livestock products, or both such boarding and such
production. Such operations shall not include operations
whose primary on site function is horse racing.
Part 6. Land used to support a commercial equine
operation. “Commercial equine operation” means an
agricultural enterprise, consisting of at least seven acres and
stabling at least ten horses regardless of ownership that
receives $10,000 or more in gross receipts annually from fees
generated through 1) the provisions of commercial equine
activities including, but not limited to, riding lessons, trail
riding or training of horses (but not horse racing), 2)
production for sale of crops, livestock or livestock products, or
through both 1) and 2). An otherwise eligible operation
proposed or in its first or second year of operation may qualify
as a commercial equine operation if it consists of at least seven
acres and stables at least ten horses, regardless of ownership,
by the end of the first year of operation.
Page 10
Part 8. Land rented to others. Land that the applicant rents
to another person, used as a single operation for the production
for sale of crops, livestock or livestock products (exclusive of
woodland products) in the preceding two years with an
average gross sales value of less than $10,000 may be eligible
to receive an agricultural assessment if certain requirements
are satisfied. To qualify for an agricultural assessment the
applicant must rent to another person at least seven acres of
land used to produce crops, livestock or livestock products,
exclusive of woodland products. Land actually used to
produce crops, livestock or livestock products may include
cropland, muck, orchards, vineyards and pasture.
8f. To qualify for an agricultural assessment the rented
land must be used in agricultural production under a five year
written rental arrangement. NOTE: Rental arrangement is
defined as a “written lease signed by both of the parties to the
agreement.” The applicant must provide documentation
concerning the existence and term of the rental arrangement (a
copy of the lease or an affidavit attesting to the existence of
such a lease (Form RP-305-c).
8g. To qualify for an agricultural assessment the rented
land must be used in conjunction with other land which
qualifies for an agricultural assessment. The applicant should
indicate the owner, tax map number and location of this other
land. The assessor may require substantiation of the fact that
the other land qualifies for an agricultural assessment. Use
side 2 of Form RP-305-c.
Part 7. Land under a structure within which crops,
livestock or livestock products are produced.
For Questions on Page 4
Part 9. Certified value on eligible agricultural lands.
Applicants must complete column 2 of Part 9 on page 4. See
instructions on page 4.
CERTIFICATION BY APPLICANT
The applicant must complete the certification on the bottom of page 1.
10 A F TPlanning for Agriculture in New York
Is Your COUNTY Planning a Future for Farms?
Encourage Public Appreciation
for Agriculture
Does your county…
YES NO


Most New Yorkers did not grow up on
a farm, and many have never visited a farm. Giving
people a chance to learn about farming and celebrate
local farms is an important, and enjoyable, learning
experience!
YES NO


Public officials are key players
in deciding the future of farming in New York. Its
important that these leaders have the chance to
learn about agriculture and better understand how
they can support farming in their role as community
leaders.
YES NO

e media is a key ally
in educating the public about the importance of
agriculture and issues facing local farmers. Providing
statistics, perspectives and resources to local media
can generate informed coverage of agricultural issues.
YES NO

Educating kids about
eating healthy food is critical to solving many public
health problems and ensuring that future generations
appreciate the importance of local farms.
YES NO
e
contributions made by farmers to the local economy,
environment and community are often overlooked.
Awards, media events and other efforts to recognize
these contributions help encourage local farmers,
while reinforcing the many benefits that agriculture
provides to New York communities.
YES NO

Counties can provide important
data, maps and other information to towns that
are looking for information. Cost of Community
Services studies, economic reports, land use maps
and other resources that are provided by counties can
help municipalities make informed decisions.
Strengthen Economic
Opportunities for Farmers and
Related Businesses
Does your county…
YES NO
Agriculture supports
thousands of jobs across New York. Food processors
and other agribusinesses are also critical parts of
the state’s economy. ese farm and food businesses
should be treated like other sectors of the economy
and provided with business planning services,
financing and other incentives to retain and expand
jobs in these industries.
YES NO


Consumers can have a big
impact on the bottom line of many farmers by
choosing to buy local farm products. Buy local
marketing campaigns can educate people about
the benefits of local products and how they can be
purchased.
YES NO


Public and private institutions that
A F TPlanning for Agriculture in New York 11
purchase local farm products can make a real
difference in the farm economy due to the scale of
their purchasing power. Encouraging, or requiring,
local food purchasing by institutions can help keep
food dollars in a community and magnify the impact
of this spending.
YES NO

Farms are not only a beautiful part of
New York’s scenic landscape, many also offer enjoyable
experiences for families and tourists. U-pick farms,
corn mazes, pumpkin patches, horse riding, wine
tasting and other on-farm experiences should be
marketed along with other area tourism activities.
Encourage Long-term
Viability of Farming and Food
Production
Does your county…
YES NO


Such
programs not only teach young people important
leadership skills, they ensure a skilled workforce for
area farms and related businesses.
YES NO

Too often,
agriculture is overlooked as a major component of the
economy in New York. Local and regional economic
development strategies should make farm and food
jobs a priority and identify strategies for retaining
existing jobs and expanding new jobs in these sectors.
YES NO



Farmers manage roughly seven million acres of
land in New York—roughly 25 percent of the land
in the state. Encouraging environmentally sound
stewardship of soil, water and other natural resources
will encourage a healthy environment and better
opportunities for future generations of farmers.
YES NO



Currently, 50 New York counties have developed
agricultural and farmland protection plans to
direct county action in support of local farms and
protecting irreplaceable farmland. However, these
plans shouldnt sit on a shelf! Counties should keep
them up-to-date and make an ongoing commitment
of time and resources to implementing them.
Support Positive Relationships
Between Farmers and Others in
Your Community
Does your county
YES NO



Farming
has unique circumstances that frequently require
alternative rules, regulations or approaches than
other businesses and land uses. Public officials need
to understand these unique circumstances and
applicable regulations and apply them fairly to farm
businesses.
YES NO


e Agricultural Districts program is one of New
York’s oldest farmland protection tools, and it
provides important right-to-farm protections to New
York farmers. Counties should keep districts current
and use the renewal process as an opportunity to
engage local officials about issues facing farmers in
these districts.
YES NO



New York’s
Agricultural Districts law requires that local
governments not be unreasonably restrictive
12 A F TPlanning for Agriculture in New York
in regulating farmers operating in state-
certified agricultural districts. e New York
State Department of Agriculture and Markets
(NYSDAM) has developed guidance for local
governments about how this standard applies to
a variety of topics related to agriculture. Local
governments are well-advised to use these guidance
documents and contact NYSDAM prior to adopting
new regulations that could impact agriculture.
YES NO



oughtful siting of new houses and
developments, buffers between new houses and
neighboring farms, and other planning measures can
help prevent future conflicts between farmers and
neighbors.
YES NO
Local right-to-farm
laws can be an important statement in support of
agriculture, while also establishing strategies for
preventing and addressing conflicts between farmers
and non-farm neighbors. ese laws can reinforce
protections provided by New York’s Agricultural
Districts program, while offering additional planning
and dispute resolution measures that can prevent
misunderstandings from becoming expensive
conflicts.
Protect Agricultural Land and
Keep It Actively Farmed
Does your county
YES NO

e process of
transferring a farm from one generation to another
is a complicated endeavor. Without proper planning,
the transfer process can result in unnecessary taxes,
family conflict or other complications that can push
a farm into being developed.
YES NO



Building such infrastructure in farming areas sends
a strong signal that farming has a limited future
and that new non-farm development is expected.
If infrastructure expansions are necessary, be sure
to establish mitigation measures, such as lateral
restrictions, to limit the spread of development on
productive farmland.
YES NO

Since the 1970s,
New York counties have played an important role
in protecting farms from being lost to development.
Some counties have provided funding to purchase
conservation easements on farms, while others have
facilitated such projects in partnership with local
land trusts and municipalities. While the approach
may differ, all county governments can help ensure
that farmland is protected for future generations.
YES NO

County governments can be a key ally for
municipal governments that are considering zoning,
subdivision or other codes related to agriculture.
Counties can provide maps, statistics and other
resources to support informed decision-making at a
local level.
Total Your Score!
Your results

Congratulations! You’ve accomplished a great deal
in supporting local farms. But, dont stop now.
Issues facing agriculture are always changing—stay
diligent!

Your county has made important progress. Keep
engaging farmers and others in doing more to
support local agriculture.

You clearly value local farms but havent done
everything necessary to support them. Look again
at the benefits farms provide to your county and
redouble your efforts to support agriculture.

Its time to get going! Your county has many
opportunities to do more in support of farming.

Your county has a long way to go in supporting
agriculture. But, its better to start now than never at
all! Engage local farmers and begin to take action.
A F TPlanning for Agriculture in New York 13
The FARMLAND INFORMATION CENTER (FIC) is a clearinghouse for information about farmland protection and stewardship.
The FIC is a public/private partnership between the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and American Farmland Trust.
American farmland trust · Farmland information center
FACT
SHEET
COST OF
COMMUNITY
SERVICES
STUDIES
DESCRIPTION
Cost of Community Services (COCS) studies are
a case study approach used to determine the
fiscal contribution of existing local land uses.
A subset of the much larger field of fiscal analysis,
COCS studies have emerged as an inexpensive
and reliable tool to measure direct fiscal relation-
ships. Their particular niche is to evaluate working
and open lands on equal ground with residential,
commercial and industrial land uses.
COCS studies are a snapshot in time of costs
versus revenues for each type of land use. They
do not predict future costs or revenues or the
impact of future growth. They do provide a
baseline of current information to help local
officials and citizens make informed land use
and policy decisions.
METHODOLOGY
In a COCS study, researchers organize financial
records to assign the cost of municipal services
to working and open lands, as well as to resi-
dential, commercial and industrial development.
Researchers meet with local sponsors to define
the scope of the project and identify land use
categories to study. For example, working lands
may include farm, forest and/or ranch lands.
Residential development includes all housing,
including rentals, but if there is a migrant agri-
cultural work force, temporary housing for these
workers would be considered part of agricultural
land use. Often in rural communities, commercial
and industrial land uses are combined. COCS
studies findings are displayed as a set of ratios
that compare annual revenues to annual expendi-
tures for a community’s unique mix of land uses.
COCS studies involve three basic steps:
1. Collect data on local revenues and expenditures.
2. Group revenues and expenditures and allocate
them to the community’s major land use
categories.
3. Analyze the data and calculate revenue-to-
expenditure ratios for each land use category.
The process is straightforward, but ensuring
reliable figures requires local oversight. The
most complicated task is interpreting existing
records to reflect COCS land use categories.
Allocating revenues and expenses requires a
significant amount of research, including exten-
sive interviews with financial officers and
public administrators.
HISTORY
Communities often evaluate the impact of growth
on local budgets by conducting or commissioning
fiscal impact analyses. Fiscal impact studies proj-
ect public costs and revenues from different land
development patterns. They generally show that
residential development is a net fiscal loss for
communities and recommend commercial and
industrial development as a strategy to balance
local budgets.
Rural towns and counties that would benefit
from fiscal impact analysis may not have the
expertise or resources to conduct a study. Also,
fiscal impact analyses rarely consider the contri-
bution of working and other open lands, which
is very important to rural economies.
American Farmland Trust (AFT) developed
COCS studies in the mid-1980s to provide
communities with a straightforward and in-
expensive way to measure the contribution of
agricultural lands to the local tax base. Since
then, COCS studies have been conducted in
at least 151 communities in the United States.
FUNCTIONS & PURPOSES
Communities pay a high price for unplanned
growth. Scattered development frequently causes
traffic congestion, air and water pollution, loss
of open space and increased demand for costly
public services. This is why it is important for
citizens and local leaders to understand the rela-
tionships between residential and commercial
growth, agricultural land use, conservation and
their community’s bottom line.
COCS studies help address three misperceptions
that are commonly made in rural or suburban
communities facing growth pressures:
1. Open lands—including productive farms and
forests—are an interim land use that should
be developed to their “highest and best use.”
2. Agricultural land gets an unfair tax break
when it is assessed at its current use value
for farming or ranching instead of at its
potential use value for residential or com-
mercial development.
3. Residential development will lower property
taxes by increasing the tax base.
While it is true that an acre of land with a new
house generates more total revenue than an
acre of hay or corn, this tells us little about
F
ARMLAND
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© August 2010
FARMLAND INFORMATION CENTER
(800) 370-4879
www.farmlandinfo.org
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SUMMARY OF COST OF COMMUNITY SERVICES STUDIES, REVENUE-TO-EXPENDITURE RATIOS IN DOLLARS
Community
Residential
including
farm houses
Commercial
& Industrial
Working &
Open Land Source
Colorado
Custer County 1 : 1.16 1 : 0.71 1 : 0.54 Haggerty, 2000
Sagauche County 1 : 1.17 1 : 0.53 1 : 0.35 Dirt, Inc., 2001
Connecticut
Bolton 1 : 1.05 1 : 0.23 1 : 0.50 Geisler, 1998
Brooklyn 1 : 1.09 1 : 0.17 1 : 0.30 Green Valley Institute, 2002
Durham 1 : 1.07 1 : 0.27 1 : 0.23 Southern New England Forest Consortium, 1995
Farmington 1 : 1.33 1 : 0.32 1 : 0.31 Southern New England Forest Consortium, 1995
Hebron 1 : 1.06 1 : 0.47 1 : 0.43 American Farmland Trust, 1986
Lebanon 1 : 1.12 1 : 0.16 1 : 0.17 Green Valley Institute, 2007
Litchfield 1 : 1.11 1 : 0.34 1 : 0.34 Southern New England Forest Consortium, 1995
Pomfret 1 : 1.06 1 : 0.27 1 : 0.86 Southern New England Forest Consortium, 1995
Windham 1 : 1.15 1 : 0.24 1 : 0.19 Green Valley Institute, 2002
Florida
Leon County 1 : 1.39 1 : 0.36 1 : 0.42 Dorfman, 2004
Georgia
Appling County 1 : 2.27 1 : 0.17 1 : 0.35 Dorfman, 2004
Athens-Clarke County 1 : 1.39 1 : 0.41 1 : 2.04 Dorfman, 2004
Brooks County 1 : 1.56 1 : 0.42 1 : 0.39 Dorfman, 2004
Carroll County 1 : 1.29 1 : 0.37 1 : 0.55 Dorfman and Black, 2002
Cherokee County 1 : 1.59 1 : 0.12 1 : 0.20 Dorfman, 2004
Colquitt County 1 : 1.28 1 : 0.45 1 : 0.80 Dorfman, 2004
Columbia County 1 : 1.16 1 : 0.48 1 : 0.52 Dorfman, 2006
Dooly County 1 : 2.04 1 : 0.50 1 : 0.27 Dorfman, 2004
Grady County 1 : 1.72 1 : 0.10 1 : 0.38 Dorfman, 2003
Hall County 1 : 1.25 1 : 0.66 1 : 0.22 Dorfman, 2004
Jackson County 1 : 1.28 1 : 0.58 1 : 0.15 Dorfman, 2008
Jones County 1 : 1.23 1 : 0.65 1 : 0.35 Dorfman, 2004
Miller County 1 : 1.54 1 : 0.52 1 : 0.53 Dorfman, 2004
Mitchell County 1 : 1.39 1 : 0.46 1 : 0.60 Dorfman, 2004
Morgan County 1 : 1.42 1 : 0.25 1 : 0.38 Dorfman, 2008
Thomas County 1 : 1.64 1 : 0.38 1 : 0.67 Dorfman, 2003
Union County 1 : 1.13 1 : 0.43 1 : 0.72 Dorfman and Lavigno, 2006
Idaho
Booneville County 1 : 1.06 1 : 0.84 1 : 0.23 Hartmans and Meyer, 1997
Canyon County 1 : 1.08 1 : 0.79 1 : 0.54 Hartmans and Meyer, 1997
Cassia County 1 : 1.19 1 : 0.87 1 : 0.41 Hartmans and Meyer, 1997
Kootenai County 1 : 1.09 1 : 0.86 1 : 0.28 Hartmans and Meyer, 1997
Kentucky
Campbell County 1 : 1.21 1 : 0.30 1 : 0.38 American Farmland Trust, 2005
Kenton County 1 : 1.19 1 : 0.19 1 : 0.51 American Farmland Trust, 2005
Lexington-Fayette County 1 : 1.64 1 : 0.22 1 : 0.93 American Farmland Trust, 1999
Oldham County 1 : 1.05 1 : 0.29 1 : 0.44 American Farmland Trust, 2003
Shelby County 1 : 1.21 1 : 0.24 1 : 0.41 American Farmland Trust, 2005
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SUMMARY OF COST OF COMMUNITY SERVICES STUDIES, REVENUE-TO-EXPENDITURE RATIOS IN DOLLARS
Community
Residential
including
farm houses
Commercial
& Industrial
Working &
Open Land Source
Maine
Bethel 1: 1.29 1 : 0.59 1 : 0.06 Good, 1994
Maryland
Carroll County 1 : 1.15 1 : 0.48 1 : 0.45 Carroll County Dept. of Management & Budget, 1994
Cecil County 1 : 1.17 1 : 0.34 1 : 0.66 American Farmland Trust, 2001
Cecil County 1 : 1.12 1 : 0.28 1 : 0.37 Cecil County Office of Economic Development, 1994
Frederick County 1 : 1.14 1 : 0.50 1 : 0.53 American Farmland Trust, 1997
Harford County 1 : 1.11 1 : 0.40 1 : 0.91 American Farmland Trust, 2003
Kent County 1 : 1.05 1 : 0.64 1 : 0.42 American Farmland Trust, 2002
Wicomico County 1 : 1.21 1 : 0.33 1 : 0.96 American Farmland Trust, 2001
Massachusetts
Agawam 1 : 1.05 1 : 0.44 1 : 0.31 American Farmland Trust, 1992
Becket 1 : 1.02 1 : 0.83 1 : 0.72 Southern New England Forest Consortium, 1995
Dartmouth 1 : 1.14 1 : 0.51 1 : 0.26 American Farmland Trust, 2009
Deerfield 1 : 1.16 1 : 0.38 1 : 0.29 American Farmland Trust, 1992
Deerfield 1 : 1.14 1 : 0.51 1 : 0.33 American Farmland Trust, 2009
Franklin 1 : 1.02 1 : 0.58 1 : 0.40 Southern New England Forest Consortium, 1995
Gill 1 : 1.15 1 : 0.43 1 : 0.38 American Farmland Trust, 1992
Leverett 1 : 1.15 1 : 0.29 1 : 0.25 Southern New England Forest Consortium, 1995
Middleboro 1 : 1.08 1 : 0.47 1 : 0.70 American Farmland Trust, 2001
Southborough 1 : 1.03 1 : 0.26 1 : 0.45 Adams and Hines, 1997
Sterling 1 : 1.09 1 : 0.26 1 : 0.34 American Farmland Trust, 2009
Westford 1 : 1.15 1 : 0.53 1 : 0.39 Southern New England Forest Consortium, 1995
Williamstown 1 : 1.11 1 : 0.34 1 : 0.40 Hazler et al., 1992
Michigan
Marshall Twp., Calhoun County 1 : 1.47 1 : 0.20 1 : 0.27 American Farmland Trust, 2001
Newton Twp., Calhoun County 1 : 1.20 1 : 0.25 1 : 0.24 American Farmland Trust, 2001
Scio Twp., Washtenaw County 1 : 1.40 1 : 0.28 1 : 0.62 University of Michigan, 1994
Minnesota
Farmington 1 : 1.02 1 : 0.79 1 : 0.77 American Farmland Trust, 1994
Independence 1 : 1.03 1 : 0.19 1 : 0.47 American Farmland Trust, 1994
Lake Elmo 1 : 1.07 1 : 0.20 1 : 0.27 American Farmland Trust, 1994
Montana
Carbon County 1 : 1.60 1 : 0.21 1 : 0.34 Prinzing, 1997
Flathead County 1 : 1.23 1 : 0.26 1 : 0.34 Citizens for a Better Flathead, 1999
Gallatin County 1 : 1.45 1 : 0.16 1 : 0.25 Haggerty, 1996
New Hampshire
Brentwood 1 : 1:17 1 : 0.24 1 : 0.83 Brentwood Open Space Task Force, 2002
Deerfield 1 : 1.15 1 : 0.22 1 : 0.35 Auger, 1994
Dover 1 : 1.15 1 : 0.63 1 : 0.94 Kingsley, et al., 1993
Exeter 1 : 1.07 1 : 0.40 1 : 0.82 Niebling, 1997
Fremont 1 : 1.04 1 : 0.94 1 : 0.36 Auger, 1994
Groton 1 : 1.01 1 : 0.12 1 : 0.88 New Hampshire Wildlife Federation, 2001
Hookset 1 : 1.16 1 : 0.43 1 : 0.55 Innovative Natural Resource Solutions, 2008
Lyme 1 : 1.05 1 : 0.28 1 : 0.23 Pickard, 2000
Milton 1 : 1:30 1 : 0.35 1 : 0.72 Innovative Natural Resource Solutions, 2005
3
AMERICAN FARMLAND TRUST FARMLAND INFORMATION CENTER
SUMMARY OF COST OF COMMUNITY SERVICES STUDIES, REVENUE-TO-EXPENDITURE RATIOS IN DOLLARS
Community
Residential
including
farm houses
Commercial &
Industrial
Working &
Open Land Source
New Hampshire (continued)
Mont Vernon 1 : 1.03 1 : 0.04 1 : 0.08 Innovative Natural Resource Solutions, 2002
Stratham 1 : 1.15 1 : 0.19 1 : 0.40 Auger, 1994
New Jersey
Freehold Township 1 : 1.51 1 : 0.17 1 : 0.33 American Farmland Trust, 1998
Holmdel Township 1 : 1.38 1 : 0.21 1 : 0.66 American Farmland Trust, 1998
Middletown Township 1 : 1.14 1 : 0.34 1 : 0.36 American Farmland Trust, 1998
Upper Freehold Township 1 : 1.18 1 : 0.20 1 : 0.35 American Farmland Trust, 1998
Wall Township 1 : 1.28 1 : 0.30 1 : 0.54 American Farmland Trust, 1998
New York
Amenia 1 : 1.23 1 : 0.25 1 : 0.17 Bucknall, 1989
Beekman 1 : 1.12 1 : 0.18 1 : 0.48 American Farmland Trust, 1989
Dix 1 : 1.51 1 : 0.27 1 : 0.31 Schuyler County League of Women Voters, 1993
Farmington 1 : 1.22 1 : 0.27 1 : 0.72 Kinsman et al., 1991
Fishkill 1 : 1.23 1 : 0.31 1 : 0.74 Bucknall, 1989
Hector 1 : 1.30 1 : 0.15 1 : 0.28 Schuyler County League of Women Voters, 1993
Kinderhook 1 : 1.05 1 : 0.21 1 : 0.17 Concerned Citizens of Kinderhook, 1996
Montour 1 : 1.50 1 : 0.28 1 : 0.29 Schuyler County League of Women Voters, 1992
North East 1 : 1.36 1 : 0.29 1 : 0.21 American Farmland Trust, 1989
Reading 1 : 1.88 1 : 0.26 1 : 0.32 Schuyler County League of Women Voters, 1992
Red Hook 1 : 1.11 1 : 0.20 1 : 0.22 Bucknall, 1989
Rochester 1 : 1.27 1 : 0.18 1 : 0.18 Bonner and Gray, 2005
North Carolina
Alamance County 1 : 1.46 1 : 0.23 1 : 0.59 Renkow, 2006
Chatham County 1 : 1.14 1 : 0.33 1 : 0.58 Renkow, 2007
Henderson County 1 : 1.16 1 : 0.40 1 : 0.97 Renkow, 2008
Orange County 1 : 1.31 1 : 0.24 1 : 0.72 Renkow, 2006
Union County 1 : 1.30 1 : 0.41 1 : 0.24 Dorfman, 2004
Wake County 1 : 1.54 1 : 0.18 1 : 0.49 Renkow, 2001
Ohio
Butler County 1 : 1.12 1 : 0.45 1 : 0.49 American Farmland Trust, 2003
Clark County 1 : 1.11 1 : 0.38 1 : 0.30 American Farmland Trust, 2003
Hocking Township 1 : 1.10 1 : 0.27 1 : 0.17 Prindle, 2002
Knox County 1 : 1.05 1 : 0.38 1 : 0.29 American Farmland Trust, 2003
Liberty Township 1 : 1.15 1 : 0.51 1 : 0.05 Prindle, 2002
Madison Village, Lake County 1 : 1.67 1 : 0.20 1 : 0.38 American Farmland Trust, 1993
Madison Twp., Lake County 1 : 1.40 1 : 0.25 1 : 0.30 American Farmland Trust, 1993
Madison Village, Lake County 1 : 1.16 1 : 0.32 1 : 0.37 American Farmland Trust, 2008
Madison Twp., Lake County 1 : 1.24 1 : 0.33 1 : .030 American Farmland Trust, 2008
Shalersville Township 1 : 1.58 1 : 0.17 1 : 0.31 Portage County Regional Planning Commission, 1997
Pennsylvania
Allegheny Twp., Westmoreland County 1 : 1.06 1 : 0.14 1 : 0.13 Kelsey, 1997
Bedminster Twp., Bucks County 1 : 1.12 1 : 0.05 1 : 0.04 Kelsey, 1997
Bethel Twp., Lebanon County 1 : 1.08 1 : 0.17 1 : 0.06 Kelsey, 1992
Bingham Twp., Potter County 1 : 1.56 1 : 0.16 1 : 0.15 Kelsey, 1994
Buckingham Twp., Bucks County 1 : 1.04 1 : 0.15 1 : 0.08 Kelsey, 1996
4
AMERICAN FARMLAND TRUST FARMLAND INFORMATION CENTER
SUMMARY OF COST OF COMMUNITY SERVICES STUDIES, REVENUE-TO-EXPENDITURE RATIOS IN DOLLARS
Community
Residential
including
farm houses
Commercial &
Industrial
Working &
Open Land Source
Pennsylvania (continued)
Carroll Twp., Perry County 1 : 1.03 1 : 0.06 1 : 0.02 Kelsey, 1992
Hopewell Twp., York County 1 : 1.27 1 : 0.32 1 : 0.59 The South Central Assembly for Effective Governance, 2002
Kelly Twp., Union County 1 : 1.48 1 : 0.07 1 : 0.07 Kelsey, 2006
Lehman Twp., Pike County 1 : 0.94 1 : 0.20 1 : 0.27 Kelsey, 2006
Maiden Creek Twp., Berks County 1 : 1.28 1 : 0.11 1 : 0.06 Kelsey, 1998
Richmond Twp., Berks County 1 : 1.24 1 : 0.09 1 : 0.04 Kelsey, 1998
Shrewsbury Twp., York County 1 : 1.22 1 : 0.15 1 : 0.17 The South Central Assembly for Effective Governance, 2002
Stewardson Twp., Potter County 1 : 2.11 1 : 0.23 1 : 0.31 Kelsey, 1994
Straban Twp., Adams County 1 : 1.10 1 : 0.16 1 : 0.06 Kelsey, 1992
Sweden Twp., Potter County 1 : 1.38 1 : 0.07 1 : 0.08 Kelsey, 1994
Rhode Island
Hopkinton 1 : 1.08 1 : 0.31 1 : 0.31 Southern New England Forest Consortium, 1995
Little Compton 1 : 1.05 1 : 0.56 1 : 0.37 Southern New England Forest Consortium, 1995
West Greenwich 1 : 1.46 1 : 0.40 1 : 0.46 Southern New En
g
land Forest Consortium, 1995
Tennessee
Blount County 1 : 1.23 1 : 0.25 1 : 0.41 American Farmland Trust, 2006
Robertson County 1 : 1.13 1 : 0.22 1 : 0.26 American Farmland Trust, 2006
Tipton County 1 : 1.07 1 : 0.32 1 : 0.57 American Farmland Trust, 2006
Texas
Bandera County 1 : 1.10 1 : 0.26 1 : 0.26 American Farmland Trust, 2002
Bexar County 1 : 1.15 1 : 0.20 1 : 0.18 American Farmland Trust, 2004
Hays County 1 : 1.26 1 : 0.30 1 : 0.33 American Farmland Trust, 2000
Utah
Cache County 1 : 1.27 1 : 0.25 1 : 0.57 Snyder and Ferguson, 1994
Sevier County 1 : 1.11 1 : 0.31 1 : 0.99 Snyder and Ferguson, 1994
Utah County 1 : 1.23 1 : 0.26 1 : 0.82 Snyder and Ferguson, 1994
Virginia
Augusta County 1 : 1.22 1 : 0.20 1 : 0.80 Valley Conservation Council, 1997
Bedford County 1 : 1.07 1 : 0.40 1 : 0.25 American Farmland Trust, 2005
Clarke County 1 : 1.26 1 : 0.21 1 : 0.15 Piedmont Environmental Council, 1994
Culpepper County 1 : 1.22 1 : 0.41 1 : 0.32 American Farmland Trust, 2003
Frederick County 1 : 1.19 1 : 0.23 1 : 0.33 American Farmland Trust, 2003
Northampton County 1 : 1.13 1 : 0.97 1 : 0.23 American Farmland Trust, 1999
Washington
Okanogan County 1 : 1.06 1 : 0.59 1 : 0.56 American Farmland Trust, 2007
Skagit County 1 : 1.25 1 : 0.30 1 : 0.51 American Farmland Trust, 1999
Wisconsin
Dunn 1 : 1.06 1 : 0.29 1 : 0.18 Town of Dunn, 1994
Dunn 1 : 1.02 1 : 0.55 1 : 0.15 Wisconsin Land Use Research Program, 1999
Perry 1 : 1.20 1 : 1.04 1 : 0.41 Wisconsin Land Use Research Program, 1999
Westport 1 : 1.11 1 : 0.31 1 : 0.13 Wisconsin Land Use Research Program, 1999
Note: Some studies break out land uses into more than three distinct categories. For these studies, AFT requested data from the researcher and recalculated the
final ratios for the land use categories listed in this table. The Okanogan County, Wash., study is unique in that it analyzed the fiscal contribution of tax-exem
p
t
state, federal and tribal lands.
American Farmland Trust’s Farmland Information Center acts as a clearinghouse for information about Cost of Community Services