Cultivate New York

An Agenda to Protect Farmland for Growing Food and the Economy

2016 marks the 20th anniversary of the State of New York investing funds through the Farmland Protection Program to permanently protect farmland.

(Click to Download the Full Cultivate New York Report and the Cultivate New York Executive Summary)

(Download the Cultivate NY Communications Toolkit)

American Farmland Trust developed the Cultivate New York report to celebrate the program's accomplishments of the last 20 years, while offering new evidence of threats to farmland in New York and the urgent need for action.

With input from farmers, land trusts, county and municipal governments, academic experts, and others, AFT's Cultivate New York report presents impactful and achievable goals for protecting the state's irreplaceable farmland—ensuring a growing farm and food economy and the availability of healthy, local food for generations to come.

Recognizing the vital role farmland plays in New York, On June 7, 2016 the State Legislature passed a resolution commemorating the 20th anniversary of state funding for farmland conservation. The resoultion was sponsored by Senator Patty Ritchie, chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee and Assemblyman Bill Magee, chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee.

Since the 1980s, roughly 5,000 farms have been lost to development in New York – an average of three farms a week over the last 30 years.

What's the Value of New York Farmland?

Food connects all New Yorkers, from the millions of people eating healthy, local food, to the hundreds of thousands employed on farms or businesses associated with farming and food processing across the state.

But the farmland on which these healthy diets and economic activities depend is being paved over. Since the 1980s, roughly 5,000 farms have been lost to development in New York – an average of three farms a week over the last 30 years.

Today, new forces in addition to development—such as climate change and the need to transition farms to a new generation—are posing serious threats to New York's irreplaceable farmland.

In 1996, the State of New York took action to stop farms from being paved over by allocating funding to protect farmland. Since then, the state's Farmland Protection Program has partnered with farm families, local governments and land trusts to permanently protect 232 farms encompassing 59,165 acres. In 2015, New York allocated $35 million for protecting farmland - one of the highest levels of state investment in the nation and the most in the state's history.

Cultivate New York Goals

Cultivate New York focuses on accomplishments of the Farmland Implementation Grant Program from 1996 to 2015 and provides goals and recommendations for action to ensure that New York protects the farmland essential to feeding the state's citizens and growing the farm and food economy for generations to come.

Goal 1: Invest in Making New York a National Leader in Protecting the Land to Grow Food and the Economy.

Benchmark: Permanently protect 100,000 acres of high quality farmland that is under threat over the next 10 years.

Goal 2: Improve Capacity to Protect Farms Quickly and Efficiently.

Benchmark: Consistently complete state-funded farmland protection projects in less than two years.

Goal 3: Enable the Transition of Farmland to New and Next Generation Farmers.

Benchmark: Help 5,000 new and next generation farmers in finding land in New York over the next 10 years.

Goal 4: Plan to Conserve Farmland Resources for a Resilient Farm and Food Economy in New York.

Benchmark: Development of a statewide plan and supporting state policies by 2020.

Protecting 100,000 Acres of Farmland Could:

  • Feed New Yorkers 100 million meals a year, forever
  • Provide land for 1,000 new or existing farm families
  • Support $550,000,000 in annual economic activity

How You Can Help

Cover photo provided by Bob Skinner from the documentary "Salt of the Earth"

Photo of family in field provided by David Nevala for Organic Valley

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