Albany, NY (Nov. 20) -- In a keynote address before more than 225 attendees at the Harvesting Opportunities Conference in Albany Wednesday, Andrew McElwaine, President and CEO of the American Farmland, urged New York state officials to restart its efforts to protect farmland from development.
“We are facing a global challenge to double food production by 2050,” said McElwaine.
“Yet, in this country we have been paving over the farmland needed for producing food at an unsustainable pace. Since 1980, an acre of farmland has been lost to development every minute – an area equal to three times all of the farmland in New York.”
New York is one of 28 states that have created Farmland Protection Programs to pay farmers to permanently protect their land from development. Established in 1996, New York’s Farmland Protection has provided over $100 million to protect roughly 200 farms encompassing over 44,000 acres.
“We are encouraged that Governor Cuomo and state legislators agreed last year to allocate $13 million to the Farmland Protection Program from the state’s Environmental Protection Fund, yet the state’s program has not accepted new applications in 5 years,” explained McElwaine. “In contrast, neighboring Pennsylvania has invested $800 million in farmland preservation and permanently protected more than 480,000 acres of farmland – including $23 million in new funds this year.”
“We believe New York can do better,” explained McElwaine. “We urge Governor Cuomo to restart New York’s Farmland Protection Program by issuing a new Request for Proposals and allocating $25 million in his Executive Budget Proposal to fund the program in the upcoming fiscal year.”
“American farmers sell over $300 billion in farm products each year and manage half the land in America. They are vital allies in protecting clean water and responding to climate change but we must not take them for granted,” added McElwaine. “States like New York are on the progressive front of a national movement to embrace local farms, expand local food economies and stop the destructive loss of farmland to development. We hope that Governor Cuomo and State Legislators seize this opportunity to do their part to grow this movement.”
The American Farmland Trust is the nation’s leading conservation organization dedicated to protecting farmland, promoting sound farming practices and keeping farmers on the land.
For information on American Farmland Trust’s work in New York visit:www.farmland.org/newyork, Facebook: www.facebook.com/AmericanFarmlandtrustny or Twitter: @FarmlandNY #Harvesting Opportunity NY
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