Greener Fields

Combating Climate Change by Keeping Land in Farming in New York

AFT’s Greener Fields report suggests that protecting farmland and steering new real estate development into villages and cities is an important component of New York’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050

Climate change has, and will continue to have, dramatic effects on all New Yorkers – including farmers and citizens concerned about their food and where it comes from.

In the future, farming and food production could be significantly impacted by severe weather, including warmer winters with more lake-effect snowstorms, hotter summers with serious droughts or intense storms with heavy rainfall.

At the same time, sea-level rise along our coasts could encroach upon millions of people living along the state's heavily-populated coastline, displacing residents and pushing new real estate development onto farmland.

About the Greener Fields Report

New York State has made a strong commitment to fighting climate change, establishing a goal of reducing statewide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

American Farmland Trust's Greener Fields report has found that keeping land in farming and promoting good stewardship of the land is an important tool for reducing GHG emissions, as farmland emits approximately 66 times fewer GHGs per acre than developed land in New York. Protecting farmland and reducing the conversion of farmland to real estate development should be an important part of New York's 80 percent GHG reduction goal.

Webinar with the Report Authors

On June 6, 2017, American Farmland Trust led a discussion of our new report titled, Greener Fields: Combating Climate Change by Keeping Land in Farming in New York. View/listen to the recording below.

Presenters included:

Sanaz Arjomand, Government Affairs Specialist, American Farmland Trust
David Haight, New York State Director, American Farmland Trust
Olivia Fuller, New York Program & Outreach Assistant, American Farmland Trust


Learn more about and help share the results by downloading our communications toolkit containing background on the report, sample newsletter language, visual assets, and example social media posts.


Included in the report are recommended ways every New Yorker can take action to keep land in farming and combat climate change.

For Farmers

  • Investigate options for permanently protecting your farmland. Go to to find a land trust and learn more.
  • Adopt climate smart farming practices, such as cover crops and reduced tillage.
  • Generate renewable energy in ways compatible with farming and keep productive farmland in agriculture.

For Interested Citizens

  • Shop at farm stands, farmers markets and other places that sell local farm products. Talk with farmers about challenges they face in keeping their land in farming.
  • Reach out to a local land trust about their efforts to protect farmland.
  • Encourage public leaders to support funding and initiatives that protect farmland and climate smart farming practices.

For Land Trusts

  • Help farm families permanently protect the most valuable and resilient land for farming and growing food.
  • Educate your community about the importance of keeping land in farming and the connection with increasing resilience to a changing climate.
  • Work with partners to help farmers adopt soil health practices and generate renewable energy in ways compatible with agriculture and keep productive land in farming.

For Planners and Local Officials

  • Make agriculture and protecting farmland a priority in land use, economic development and climate change plans.
  • Participate in the Department of Environmental Conservation's Climate Smart Communities Program and integrate farms into community climate strategies.
  • Work with the Department of Agriculture and Markets Agricultural and Farmland Protection Planning Grants Program to develop pro-active plans to keep land in farming and support the economic viability of farming.

For State and Federal Leaders

  • Incorporate farmland protection into public policy agendas for combatting climate change.
  • Include the protection of farmland and local food systems in state or federal plans for land conservation and economic development.
  • Commit resources to helping farm families permanently protect their land for farming and adopt conservation practices that build soil health.

For Researchers

  • Conduct additional research related to alternative land use scenarios—such as higher density residential development compared with lower density residential development—and the associated impact on greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Estimate the climate change impacts of farmers expanding the use of soil health and other climate-smart farming practices.
  • Explore ways for farmers to successfully integrate renewable energy into active farm operations while keeping productive farmland in agriculture.

Financial Support

AFT greatly appreciates the generous financial support of the individuals and organizations that made the Greener Fields report possible, including the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, New York State Conservation Partnership Program administered by the Land Trust Alliance in coordination with New York's Department of Environmental Conservation and Environmental Protection Fund and AFT's members.