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Dutchess County Right-to-Farm Law

Announced as a 2019 initiative at the 2018 Dutchess County Agricultural Advisory Committee Forum, the Dutchess County Right-to-Farm Law was passed unanimously by the County Legislature and signed by County Executive Molinaro in August 2019. This law works in complement with the New York State Right-to-Farm Law, which is included in NYS Agriculture & Markets Law (AML) (Article 25-AA, Section 308). This law also supports the “Farm-Friendly Regulation” initiative included in the 2015 Dutchess County Agricultural & Farmland Protection Plan, which calls for the prevention of development from moving into prime farmland areas, the allowance of a variety of agricultural uses in local zoning districts, and the establishment of development guidelines that address how agricultural land and open space will be protected.

Background of the Law:
Out of the 62 counties in New York State, there are now 17 counties with Right-to-Farm laws, including Dutchess County. The intent of these laws is to make a declarative statement about the positive role that agriculture, particularly as a local business, plays in the county. This law applies only to property located in a State-certified agricultural district and to farm operations that conform with generally accepted and sound agricultural practices (as defined in the law). In Dutchess County, we have four agricultural districts (i.e. 20, 21, 22, and 23), encompassing over 197,000 acres of land.

Right-to-Farm Law Highlights:

  • Right-to-Farm Dispute Resolution Committee: This law establishes the Right-to-Farm Dispute Resolution Committee, which acts as a local arbitration mechanism for complaints related to farming activities that cannot be settled solely by the involved parties. The Committee, composed of the Chair of the Agricultural & Farmland Protection Board and the Commissioner of the Dutchess County Department of Planning & Development (or their designated representatives), as well as a representative from the NYS Agricultural Mediation Program, will meet to discuss the facts surrounding the dispute, encouraging all involved parties to partake in the discussions. The intent of the Committee is to resolve disputes prior to, or if desired, alternatively to involving the NYS Department of Agriculture & Markets.
     
  • Real Estate Disclosure Notice: The law includes a section related to real estate disclosure notices, which aim to inform potential neighbors about a farmer’s right-to-farm in Dutchess County and in New York State. Per this law and AML (Article 25-AA, Section 310), these notices are required for the sale, purchase, or exchange of real property located partially or wholly within 500 feet of a State-certified agricultural district. As such, it is the responsibility of the prospective grantor to present this notice to the prospective grantee when a purchase/sale contract is presented. The notice also must be recorded on a Property Transfer Report form per Real Property Law. 
     
  • Agricultural Data Statement: The law encourages and supports the local adoption of agricultural data statement requirements, as prescribed in AML (Article 25-AA, Section 305-b). AML states that any application for a special use permit, site plan, use variance, or subdivision that occurs on property within an agricultural district or within 500 feet of a farm operation located in an agricultural district, and requires review/approval by a municipal board shall include an agricultural data statement. These documents review the possible impacts of the project on the farm operations in the adjacent agricultural district(s).


Municipal Guidance on Farm-Friendly Regulations:
If local municipalities would like guidance on farm-friendly regulations or crafting a similar right-to-farm law, please see the following resources:

For more information, please contact the Dutchess County Department of Planning & Development at (845) 486-3600 or Shelby Frangk at sfrangk@dutchessny.gov.