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Genesee County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan

Genesee County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan

Agriculture

Agriculture and Farmland Protection Plan Limit future uses of the land that degrade the agricultural value or productivity of the land Extinguish virtually all non-farm development rights (i.e., the right to build residential or non-agricultural structures) Encourage the business of farming Permit the construction of new farm buildings and farm employee housing Complement the right-to-farm provisions in the Agricultural Districts Law Do not require public access Leave the landowner in full ownership of the farm DETERMINING EASEMENT VALUE In general, the value of an easement is the fair market value of the property minus its restricted value, as determined by a qualified appraiser. For example, if the market value of an unprotected parcel of farmland is $200,000, but worth only $100,000 if protected with an agricultural conservation easement, then the farmer is paid the difference of $100,000 for selling the development rights. Landowners may choose to donate some or all of the value of their development rights as a way to permanently protect their farmland and potentially reduce income and estate taxes. PROGRAM COSTS Since the state PDR program requires applicants to contribute a local match, county and municipal funds are also necessary for the implementation of PDR projects. The state program will fund up to 75% of the cost of a purchased easement. The remaining 25% must be matched by local jurisdictions. The following section outlines several ways local communities can finance their PDR programs. Bonds - In the past decade, many New York communities have recognized that farmland conservation is a long-term investment. Several of these communities have issued municipal bonds to pay for the purchase of development rights on farmland. Suffolk County on Long Island was the first. In 1976 they authorized a $21 million bond program to pay for the development rights to thousands of acres of farmland. Since then, several towns on the eastern end of Long Island also have instituted bond programs of their own. In the 1990s, the western New York town of Pittsford authorized two consecutive $5 million bonds to fund its farmland protection program. General Revenues - Other communities have set aside annual appropriations to pay for farmland protection projects by using current revenues. The town of Amherst has allocated funding for its projects in this manner, and so has the town of Ithaca. Real Estate Transfer Taxes - In 1998, the state Legislature and Governor Pataki approved a law that allowed five towns in the Peconic Bay region of Long Island to establish individual community preservation funds. The proposed funding mechanism would create a 2 percent real estate transfer tax to apply to most high-end property sales. The tax, paid by the purchaser, is based on property value above a designated threshold. Columbia, MD 27

Genesee County, New York In 1998, the proposed real estate transfer tax was approved by voter referendum in all five towns as a way to raise money for the protection of farmland and other resources. The money raised in each town through tax revenues will be used to purchase development rights on farmland, as well as protect other environmentally sensitive or historic properties. New York state approval will be required before local communities can increase the real estate transfer tax. Land Installment Purchase Obligations -In 1996, New York authorized municipalities to issue a new funding mechanism called land installment purchase obligations. The legislation was designed to make it less expensive for municipalities to acquire development rights to farmland and other open spaces. This new debt instrument, under the state local finance law, can give important tax advantages to the seller of development rights, including the benefits of installment payments and tax-free interest. The land installment purchase obligation is considered municipal debt and will be backed by the issuing municipality. Subsequently, the bond owner has the right to insist on payment from the municipality, even if property taxes must be raised to do so. This new financing mechanism has yet to be implemented, as several technical issues must be resolved before communities can explore this funding option. Public/Private Partnerships - Many municipalities have successfully used partnerships with private organizations to facilitate their PDR programs. In some areas, local land trusts, once formed primarily by conservationists concerned about vanishing habitat and open space, have formed to tackle the challenges of preserving farmland. A private land trust can contribute greatly to the overall bottom line of a project, and land trusts often have the available staff or needed experience that municipalities may lack. For example, a land trust may play a key role in assembling PDR applications, holding, monitoring and enforcing easements, managing the PDR program, or providing a portion of the local match as in-kind credit or in cash. In addition, land trust involvement may increase the incentive for farmer participation, since landowners who donate an easement or a portion of their property to a nonprofit land trust may receive a federal tax deduction, thus offsetting some of their capital gains tax liability. STEWARDSHIP AND MONITORING Landowners can donate or sell agricultural conservation easements to the state, a municipality or a qualified nonprofit conservation organization. The agency or organization that acquires the restriction does not obtain the right to build on or develop the land, but only the right and responsibility to prevent non-farm development. Though the New York State Agricultural and Farmland Protection Program provides funding to purchase development rights to farmland, New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets does not hold easements. The holder of an easement is obligated to monitor the land involved and uphold and enforce the terms of the agreement. 28 Agriculture and Community Development Services, Inc.

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    Table of Contents Introduction 2 Me

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    Methods The methods used to prepare

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    Summary (continued) As Genesee Coun

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    Genesee County Gross Farm Sales Reb

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    Dairy and Cattle Sales Fuel Growth

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    Genesee County Farm Expenses Grow M

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    Farm Income Strength Keeps Farmers

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    Real Farm Real Estate Values Slide

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    Farm Cropland Falls Modestly in Gen

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    Dairy Farm Numbers Plummet. Number

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    Dairy Farm Size Expands in Genesee

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    Traditional Crops - Harvested Acrea

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    Specialty Crops - A Few Crops Domin

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    Specialty Crops - Greenhouse Produc

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    Number of Firms 30 25 20 15 10 Grow

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    Genesee County Farming Sectors’ O

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    Farming Sector Employment for Genes

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    Farm Output Multipliers for Genesee

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    Expenditures by the Vegetable Farm

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    Appendix: IMPLAN Analysis and Resul

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    Genesee County: Agricultural Develo

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    APPENDIX B: Project Contact List Ma

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    APPENDIX C: AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMEN

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    Genesee County: Town of Byron Cost

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    Fire District 1 46,500.00 41,850.00

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    EMPLOYEES State Retirement 500.00 7

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    Town of Byron Revenues 2000 Revenue

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    APPENDIX C: SWOT ANALYSIS Stable La

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    Sweetland Road Sumner Road Orleans

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