The primary purpose of this handbook is to help New York's recently mandated agricultural and farmland protection boards accomplish the challenging task set out for them in the Agricultural Protection Act of 1992. The handbook is also meant to provide needed information to state and local officials, land use professionals, farmers and farmland protection advocates who want to ensure a future for the state's valuable agricultural land. As a national farmland conservation organization, American Farmland Trust has far-reaching expertise in analyzing and applying farmland protection strategies nationwide. With a field office in New York, AFT has worked closely with local officials and the state legislature to promote farmland protection policies and to advise on the appropriate use of existing tools to guarantee the future of New York's farmland resources.
The first part of this handbook reviews the question, "Why save farmland?" pointing to the economic and environmental importance of agriculture in the Empire State. Section II is a succinct presentation of the Agricultural Districts Law, recently amended by the Agricultural Protection Act of 1992. It also covers other important legislation relevant to state farmland protection efforts. Section III is an informative guide to existing techniques to protect farmland and ways to incorporate agriculture into local planning efforts. Sections II and III are meant to complement and reinforce each other, so there are many references back and forth to help readers see the connections between state laws and existing farmland protection tools. Finally, the handbook provides broad policy recommendations to help county agricultural and farmland protection boards chart a course for their own futures. An extensive reference section completes the handbook, and AFT is always available to assist county boards, state and local government and the agricultural community in protecting New York's most valuable natural resource: productive farmland.