After five years, Equity Trust’s Hudson Valley Farm Affordability Program is, with many strong partners, having a significant impact on farm preservation in this region of New York State. The program preserves working farms by ensuring that they:
- Are permanently affordable for farmers;
- Grow food for the region on an ongoing basis; and
- Remain in the hands of farmers.
It complements and enhances the farmland protection efforts of the region’s many land trusts by providing technical assistance and funding for incorporating affordability restrictions, known as the Preemptive Purchase Right or PPR, into conservation easements, or for the purchase of land to create shared ownership ground-lease farms.
In 2018 and early 2019, we celebrated a series of closings:
- Artemis Farm
- The Farm at Miller’s Crossing
- Farmer’s Daughter
- Featherbed Lane Farm
- Hepatica Farm
- Hearty Roots Community Farm
- Nemeth Farm
- Thompson Finch Farm
The protection of these farms brought the program total to eleven permanently affordable working farms, comprising 1,486 acres in five counties!
The impact of the Program goes well beyond the benefits it provides to individual farmers and the communities they serve. In July last year, 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. It makes farm affordability protections of the sort pioneered by Equity Trust eligible for funding under New York’s farmland protection 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. Our projects demonstrate that the tools are effective. The farmers and conservation partners that have collaborated with us are some of the strongest and most eloquent advocates for preserving farm affordability. New York now joins Massachusetts and Vermont in attempting to ensure that farms protected with public funding remain working farms. We are proud to have contributed to this outcome.