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County Executive Molinaro Signs Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan into Law

Published: 3/19/2015

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Colleen Pillus

County Executive Molinaro with local officials and members of Agricultural and Farmland Protection BoardPoughkeepsie… Dutchess County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro was joined today by members of the Dutchess County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board, county and municipal officials and local farmers at McEnroe Organic Farm in Millerton for the signing of the Dutchess County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan into law.   The Dutchess County Legislature unanimously adopted the plan earlier this month.

County Executive Molinaro stated, “The Dutchess County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan is proof that the agricultural economy in our County is continuing to grow, expand and adapt to change in our region. Farmers and agri-businesses in Dutchess County are positively impacting residents evidenced by the increased demand for local agricultural products and the emergence of new markets. I applaud the work of our Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board, the Steering Committee and our partner agencies and stakeholders for their efforts in continuing to transform agriculture in Dutchess County, making us a model for the rest of the State.”

The Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan outlines activities, programs and strategies to promote the economic success of the agricultural industry, including supporting its land use by identifying land or area proposed to be protected.    Dutchess County’s original Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan was adopted in 1998 in response to the financial struggles that were being faced by local farms and the increased pressure to convert farms into residential and commercial properties.   Today, the updated Plan reveals that Dutchess County’s agricultural industry County Executive Molinaro signing farmland protection plan into lawis growing with excellent prospects for a continuing and vital agricultural economy, based on new markets, growing interest in local agricultural products, and opportunities for continued land preservation for the next generation of farmers. The number of farms, farmland acres and the market value of agricultural products are all on the rise in Dutchess County.

Chairman of Dutchess County Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board Harry Baldwin said, “Dutchess County’s heritage is rooted in agriculture. The changes we have seen in the past fifteen years have been dramatic and it was important to put together a new plan with strategies to meet the needs of our current and future farmers and to encourage continued growth and prosperity of agriculture in Dutchess County.”

The Plan proposes five priority initiatives, with 19 specific goals, to be implemented by a collaboration of agencies including but not limited to the DC Agricultural & Farmland Protection Board, Cornell Cooperative Extension Dutchess County, DC Soil & Water Conservation District, DC Planning & Development, DC Economic Development Corporation, and local land trusts. The initiatives include:

  • Coordination and Collaboration through an Agricultural Navigator & Agricultural Advisory Committee
  • Agricultural Economic Development and Business Retention & Expansion Program
  • Farmland Preservation
  • Farm Friendly Regulation assessment and engagement
  • Marketing Public Relations and Awareness

Work on the updated Plan began in 2013, when the County was awarded a $50,000 Farmland Protection Planning Grant from the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets to update the County’s original 1998 Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan. The County provided a $10,000 match to the grant funding and additional in-kind services were provided by partner agencies including Cornell Cooperative Extension Dutchess County, the Dutchess County Soil and Water Conservation District and the Dutchess County Department of Planning and Development. The Dutchess County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board (AFPB) led the efforts with the various partner agencies and worked with consultants, Community Planning and Environmental Associates. Numerous farming and agribusiness professionals, economic development and tourism representatives, land conservancies, local officials and residents served in an advisory capacity throughout the process.

Gregg Pulver, who serves as Dutchess County Legislator and is a third generation farmer in the Town of Pine Plains, said, “There are so many new and emerging opportunities here in Dutchess County for agriculture from farm-to-table, distilleries, Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) and more, it is very exciting to be part of it. This new Plan shows the strength of our farming industry and I believe it will inspire more farming endeavors in our region.”

To view the Dutchess County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan, visit:


The Dutchess County Agricultural & Farmland Protection Plan highlights some key facts about the strength of the agricultural industry in Dutchess County.

  • 678 farms produce everything from dairy and hops, to wool and Christmas trees.
  • The number of farms and acres used for farmland is increasing.
  • There are over 112,000 acres of land reported as being farmed in the 2012 USDA Census of Agriculture.
  • Farms contribute about $50 million in sales to the County economy.
  • There are 15 farmers’ markets in the County.
  • The market value of agricultural products has increased 41% since 2007.
  • Dutchess ranks #1 in the State in sales value of horses and ponies.
  • Agri-tourism and direct sales are a growing part of agriculture.
  • Over 31,000 acres of farmland in Dutchess County have been preserved through conservation easements.

Data from the United States Department of Agriculture’s 2012 Census of Agriculture, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Dutchess County, Dutchess Land Conservancy and the Dutchess County Department of Planning & Development.