In July 2018, the “Working Farm Protection Act” was signed into law by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo after being passed unanimously by the State Assembly and Senate. This law makes farm affordability protections of the sort pioneered by Equity Trust eligible for funding under New York State’s agricultural easement program.
The legislation was the result of advocacy by many organizations, spearheaded by the National Young Farmers Coalition, but the success required the example that Equity Trust’s work provides. Over the last few years, Equity Trust’s Hudson Valley Farm Affordability Program has demonstrated how affordability protections can be used to ensure that farmland remains available to farmers at affordable prices, which in turn supports the viability of working farms. Our collaborative work has shown demand on the part of farmers and the land protection community.
Protecting affordable farms is critical for ensuring farmers have access to land and ensuring that protected farms remain in active agriculture. For a number of farm protection projects in the Hudson Valley, Equity Trust has provided private funding to pay for preemptive purchase rights and other protections designed to keep farms in the hands of farmers. These projects demonstrate the value of tools that keep farms affordable and the enthusiasm they have generated within the farming community. Private resources can and should continue to be brought to the table, but they need to be supplemented by public dollars if we are to bring the protection of affordable working farms to scale.