SCHENECTADY COUNTY -- Schenectady County has started a mandatory eight-year review of its agricultural district program, which is currently providing protections for 19,756 acres that are in agricultural use.
The eight-year review, required by state law, is more extensive that the annual review, which allows new properties to be added or subtracted from the district. In recent years, two or three properties have been added to the district each year, as in many cases a new generation of farmers starts "niche" uses.
During the eight-year review, the owners of all 355 parcels in the district are being contacted about whether they want to continue participating, and must fill out a worksheet to show that the land remains in an agricultural use.
The information will be used by the County Legislature to make any modifications and determine whether the district remains viable. The county will submit a report to the state Department of Agriculture and Markets, which must recertify the district every eight years.
Schenectady County's agricultural district, which was created in 1988, consists of scattered properties from Niskyuna to Duanesburg which are being used for a range of commercial agricultural purposes, from pasturing horses to growing timber. In total, it covers about 16 percent of the land in the county.
"Schenectady County is committed to our agricultural industry," said Legislature Chairman Anthony Jasenski, D-Rotterdam. "We encourage every local farmer and landowner to complete the worksheet so we can get an accurate picture of the agricultural industry in the county."
The goal of the state's agricultural district program is to encourage property owners to keep land in agriculture and discourage its sale for non-agricultural development through lower property value assessments and regulatory support for farming.
Worksheets are available from the county Department of Economic Development and Planning at 107 Nott Terrace, Schenectady, and can be downloaded from SchenectadyCounty.com/agdistrict, by calling 518-386-2225, or by emailing [email protected]