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Cuomo Announces Farmland Protection Fund

Written By: Asha McKenzie
Cuomo Announces Farmland Protection Fund


STATEWIDE (WENY) -- Extra Government funding is being made available to strengthen and protect the cornerstone of New York State's economy.
     Governor Andrew Cuomo announced 20.5 million dollars in Farmland Protection to push efforts that will encourage  agricultural growth.
     This extra aid will be available through New York State Environmental Protection Fund.
     Governor Cuomo says this funding will give farmers the the tools to grow and ensure stability so they won't have to sell their land to retail developers.
     "It's tough to make a living, if you can't control your commodity prices," said Ashur Terwilliger, President of the Chemung County Farm Bureau. "If you can't control them, you have to take whatever the market is and the market of what your buying keeps going up, that's a tough situation."
     Ashur Terwilliger's family has been farming for generations.
     He says these days, the cost of farming outweighs the profits.
     Over the years, in areas like Big Flats, quality agricultural land has turned into big retail developments.
     This protection plan is in place to help keep farm land for agricultural use only.  
     "For industries to take up prime land because it's down there next to the big highway," said Terwilliger. "It's also the best farmland in the world down there and it would protect it."
     It's been five years since this farmland protection fund was available to farms throughout the state.
     Now, farmers are hoping that the fund will help keep farmland productive as well as away from development.
     Chemung County Executive Tom Santullli and he said that farming is a driving force in New York State and it's important to keep it that way.  
     "This extra money to preserve those lands and give some help to those people who are trying to maintain their farming industry, that's big for chemung county, big for the southern tier and big for the state of New York," said Santulli.
     The state has streamlined the process to make it easier for farmers to apply, but it's expected to be highly competitive, to get a share of the funding.
     But farmers like Terwilliger say it's important to preserve our farm land, and ensure the state's industry for future generations.
     "We're supportive of the effort," said Terwilliger. "That's number one. Other than that it is to protect it from becoming something else."
     According to the Department of Agriculture and Markets, the state contribution to this fund has increased by 75 percent.
     Also, Land trust and soil and water conservation districts are now included in this new plan.
     For Application Materials go to www.agriculture.ny.gov/RFPS.html. or call 1-800-554-4501