Agricultural Programs and Resources

Farms contribute to Greene County’s rural character and protect open spaces essential to the quality of life for both permanent and seasonal residents. Any number of surveys of rural residents and second-home dwellers indicate the primary reasons people live in such areas have to do with their appreciation of the natural resources and open spaces offered, but the anecdotal evidence is perhaps even stronger and local tourism brochures provide examples. They include references not only to the County’s historic and natural sites but also its “spectacular scenery” and the “natural beauty of the countryside,”

Farmland is a valuable future resource for the County in providing for a healthy and plentiful local supply of food products and generating new sources of farm income. Farms and forests provide working self-sustaining landscapes that preserve and enhance environmental quality. Farms support wildlife such as deer, turkeys, and small-game and thereby sustain hunting as a source of tourism to the area.

Many new residents of the County and of areas to the North and South (e.g. Albany, Kingston), as well as visitors to the Hudson Valley, are seeking locally grown fresh fruits, vegetables, and flowers, both organic and non-organic. County farmers are already capitalizing on these opportunities in the promotion of farm stands. There are also Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms operating successfully in Greene County.

The intent of the Ag District law is to preserve, protect and encourage the development and improvement of agricultural land for the production of food and other agricultural products within designated districts in each county.

Greene County Agricultural District No. 124

Agricultural District No. 124, encompassing 38,333 acres within the County of Greene, in the Towns of Ashland, Athens, Cairo, Catskill, Coxsackie, Durham, Halcott, Hunter, Greenville, Jewett, New Baltimore, Prattsville, Lexington, Windham and the Villages of Athens, Catskill, Coxsackie, Hunter, and Tannersville (entire County of Greene), was established under Article 25AA of the NYS Agriculture and Markets Law.

Adding Land to the District

Annually, landowners from Greene County have an opportunity to request to have their property included in district  There is a thirty-day open enrollment period annually from October 1, through October 30, in which landowners in Greene County can request to have viable farming operations included in the district.

Benefits

Being in the agricultural district protects farm operations from the enactment and administration of unreasonably restrictive local regulations. Agricultural Districts do not preserve farmland in the sense that the use of land is restricted to agricultural production forever. Rather, districts provide benefits that help make and keep farming as a viable economic activity, thereby maintaining land in active agricultural use.

Agricultural operations can also receive reduced property tax bills for land in agricultural production by limiting the property tax assessment of such land to the value of the land for agricultural production, rather than its full development value

Eight-Year Review

New York State Agriculture and Markets law mandates that an agricultural district be reviewed and recertified every 8 years.  This review measures the effectiveness of the District with respect to its compliance with the intent of the law and to modify its boundaries as necessary.  The 2019-2020 eight year review is currently underway. The next eight-year review will be in 2027-2028. During this review, the district can be modified with the addition as well as removal of parcels and other modifications as determined from the review. Such reviews are extensive and involve several county and state agencies. The recertification process, will look at the nature and status of farming and farm resources within Ag District No. 124, including the total number of acres of land in farm operations in the district;  the extent to which the district has achieved its objectives; the extent to which county and local plans, policies and objectives are consistent with and support the district; and the degree of coordination between local laws, ordinances, rules and regulations that apply to farm operations and their influence on farming.

For further information, please contact Rich Schiafo, rschiafo@discovergreene.com, (518)719-3290

New York Industrial Hemp Research Initiative

New York State launched its Industrial Hemp Agricultural Research Pilot Program, permitting a limited number of educational institutions to grow and research industrial hemp.

NY Ag & Markets Opportunities in Industrial Hemp

Hemp is emerging as a potentially significant agricultural commodity. According to NY Ag and Markets industrial hemp is already generating nearly $600 million per year nationally and has the potential to grow several times over in the years to come