Article 25-AA (PDF) of the Agriculture and Markets Law authorizes the creation of local agricultural districts pursuant to landowner initiative, preliminary county review, state certification, and county adoption. As of April 2002, 341 agricultural districts existed statewide, containing approximately 21,500 farms and 8.6 million acres (about 30 percent of the State’s total land area).
The purpose of agricultural districting is to encourage the continued use of farmland for agricultural production. The Program is based on a combination of landowner incentives and protections, all of which are designed to forestall the conversion of farmland to non-agricultural uses. Included in these benefits are preferential real property tax treatment (agricultural assessment and special benefit assessment), and protections against overly restrictive local laws, government funded acquisition or construction projects, and private nuisance suits involving agricultural practices.
District Creation & Review
The Division manages the certification of new districts and the review and recertification of existing districts. State certification confirms that a district meets the purposes and intent of the Agricultural Districts Law and all eligibility criteria described therein.
New York State law allows for the creation of districts within which unreasonable local regulation of farm practices and the construction of facilities that would encourage development are limited. The New York State Agricultural Districts law also provides for reduced property taxes for farmers by allowing assessment of farmland based on its agricultural production value rather than its development value.
Agricultural districts adopted by the county and certified by the state are periodically reviewed and recertified in a process coordinated by the staff of Cornell Cooperative Extention, Soil and Water, and many other organizations in the County.
For more information contact us or Cornell Cooperative Extention.
NYS Department of Ag and Markets: http://www.agriculture.ny.gov/AP/agservices/agdistricts.html