In a New York Times article, Paul Post describes the pressure on Hudson Valley farmers to sell their land to developers and the decline in New York State farmland.
The number of farms in New York State has been declining steadily, to 35,537 in 2012 from 38,264 in 1997, according to the most recent five-year census conducted by the Department of Agriculture. And since 1982, real estate development has swallowed more than 471,000 acres of the state’s farmland, according to data compiled by the American Farmland Trust, a preservation group.
One item in New York City’s budget which will be of interest to Hudson Valley farmers is a proposal for the City to set aside 50 million dollars to preserve farmland in the Hudson Valley. Earlier this spring, the Gotham Gazette reported that 14 New York City Council Members signed a letter urging Mayor de Blasio to set aside $50 million dollars for this purpose.
Scenic Hudson’s plan is for the City to use conservation easements, otherwise known as purchase of development rights, to preserve the land. Transfer of Development Rights, published by the New York State Division of Local Government Services, describes how the purchase of development rights works:
Purchase of development rights (PDR) involves acquiring the development rights associated with a particular parcel of land. The purchase price is usually determined by appraisal. The price is often the difference between the agricultural or open space value and the development value. For example, if the value of farmland is $8,000 per acre and a developer would pay $20,000 to buy the property for development, the value of the development right would be $12,000 per acre. After a governmental agency or land trust acquires the development rights to a particular property, the development rights are then “retired” through deed restriction.