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Agricultural Districts

The key purpose of Agricultural Districts is to protect and promote land for farming purposes, benefitting farmers and owners of farmland by:

  • Providing the framework to limit unreasonable local regulation of accepted agricultural practices;
  • Providing Right-to-Farm provisions that protect accepted agricultural practices from private nuisance suits;
  • Modifying State agency administrative regulations/procedures to encourage the continuation of agricultural businesses;
  • Modifying the ability to advance public funds to construct facilities that encourage development;
  • Preventing benefit assessments, special ad valorem levies, or other rates/fees on farmland for the finance of improvements such as water, sewer or nonfarm drainage; and
  • Modifying the ability of public agencies to acquire farmland through eminent domain.

The State statute authorizing the creation of county-administered Agricultural Districts is available here.


There is one Agricultural District (21) that covers the entire county, the district contains over 194,877 acres, as shown on this map. You can also check to see if your parcel is in the district using the Agricultural Districts Viewer,an interactive mapping tool. 

For more information on Agricultural Districts, view our eNewsletter entitled, Agricultural Districts Law: Both Farmers & Municipalities Play a Role (.pdf), as well as this brochure from NYS entitled Frequently Asked Questions regarding Agricultural Districts (.pdf).  


Please note that Agricultural Districts may be confused with the following:

  • Agricultural Value Assessment Program: The Agricultural Value Assessment Program provides property tax relief for landowners by requiring that eligible farmland is assessed based on actual agricultural production value rather than its full market value. A landowner must still file an application with the local assessor to receive an agricultural value assessment, whether or not the parcel is in a certified Agricultural District. For more information on the Agricultural Value Assessment Program, contact the Dutchess County Real Property Tax Service Agency at 845-486-2140. Additionally, please view this document prepared by the Dutchess County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board entitled, Agricultural Assessment Program and Agricultural District Program: What are the differences? (.pdf)
  • Local Zoning: Local zoning districts are designated by towns, villages, or cities, and may also be named “Agricultural Districts”. Local zoning codes define where agriculture and farming are allowed by the respective municipality, while State-certified agricultural districts provide certain protections to agricultural operations within their bounds. For more information on your local zoning laws, please contact your municipality directly.

Annual Inclusion Process

The 2024 Annual Inclusion period was from April 15th through May 14th, the Dutchess County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board (AFPB) accepted applications from landowners who wish to enroll their parcel(s) into Agricultural District 21.

The AFPB will review the submitted parcels and make recommendations to the County Legislature for the inclusion of agriculturally viable properties that serve the public interest by assisting in maintaining a viable agricultural industry within the district.  The Legislature anticipates acting on those recommendations in July 2024.


8-Year Certification Process

Every eight years, the AFPB initiates a full review and certification process for all Districts, which is administered by the Dutchess County Department of Planning and Development, with significant help from Cornell Cooperative Extension Dutchess County and the Dutchess County Soil & Water Conservation District.

The most recent 8-year certification process (2023) resulted in a recommendation to include 4,122 parcels in the consolidated District 21. More details are available in the 2023 Agricultural District Review Report (.pdf). The next review will commence in 2031.