Poughkeepsie . . . County Executive William R. Steinhaus announced today he has approved funds directed to Cornell Cooperative Extension Dutchess County to begin the Agricultural District Recertification process mandated by New York State’s Agriculture and Markets Law.
The Executive said, “The $15,000 covers the preliminary activities that will prepare the County to conduct a thorough review of our four Agricultural Districts in 2007. Our farming community is a core part of our Dutchess economy and we need to protect its future. This recertification process occurs every eight years, allowing the County an opportunity to assess the current state of our farmland and our agriculture industry and to identify the effects of development pressure on our most threatened farm resources.”
Steinhaus noted, “Dutchess County has four Agricultural Districts certified during the last review. Voluntary participation in the Agricultural Districts Program provides landowners protection from local regulations that can have detrimental effects on farm operations and provides the County with detailed information about agricultural production.”
At the conclusion of the 2002 review, 135,725 acres of farmland on approximately 6,300 parcels were certified by the State for inclusion in our four Agricultural Districts. Each town in Dutchess County has certified acreage, ranging from 484 acres in Fishkill to 17,860 acres in Washington. The 2002 total represented a 14.91% reduction from the 158,331 acres certified during the upcoming review as a result of the decline in farming and the increase in the pace of development. Although the greatest impact is seen in Southern Dutchess, farmland is the easiest to develop and pressures to convert are increasing throughout the County.
County Executive Steinhaus noted that by identifying important resources and documenting the effects of development, this process will further illustrate the urgency for each community to assume responsibility for stewardship of the County’s traditional character and agriculture industry.
The upcoming review will be administered by the Dutchess County Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board. For further information about Agricultural District Recertification, contact Bob Weybright at Cornell Cooperative Extension: 845.677.8223.