Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan

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Participate in shaping the future of our farms as Ulster County undertakes a comprehensive update of its Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan.

Encompassing four NYS-certified agricultural districts spanning over 71,500 acres, alongside a diverse range of specialty farms and vibrant farmers markets, our agricultural landscape stands as a formidable economic engine. Rooted in a rich history of nourishing both local communities and extending its reach to New York City and beyond, agriculture remains a cornerstone of our County's identity, evident in the picturesque vistas along stream valleys and hillsides. This update to the Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan will equip us with the essential resources to shepherd agriculture into the future, preserving its integral role within the fabric of Ulster County.

Development of the plan is a collaborative effort of the Ulster County Planning Department, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County, the Ulster County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board, and the Ulster County Soil and Water Conservation District.

The Plan update will focus on the future needs of the agricultural community and include strategies to increase the economic viability of agricultural industries, encourage farmland protection, create opportunities for new farmers, and raise public interest and awareness of agriculture’s importance as part of our economic and land-use future.

The plan involves four phases:

1) Public Engagement

Public outreach consists of county-wide surveys, interviews of key stakeholders, focus groups, and ongoing project updates for the public. The survey was completed on December 1, 2023. There were 266 responses to the survey:

  • 95 from farmers,
  • 166 from the general public not involved in farming, and
  • 5 from those who rent land to farmers.

The survey's summary points can be found to the right under Documents.

The project's consultants conducted a dozen interviews with farmers and those from organizations conduct business with farmers. Six focus groups were also conducted in early 2024. These focus groups were on the following:

  • Land Access
  • Vegetable Growing
  • Fruit Growing and Orchards
  • Agritourism and Craft Beverages
  • Farmland Preservation
  • Agricultural Distribution and Processing

2) Data Collection and Mapping

We will create an inventory of agricultural programs currently accessible to farmers and agricultural businesses at federal, state, and local levels. Additionally, we will collect comprehensive county-level agricultural economic data to gain a deeper understanding of existing production and markets, as well as potential ones. Our efforts will involve the development of an agricultural database integrated with maps. These maps will encompass prime soils, rented farmlands, parcels receiving agricultural assessments and located within agricultural districts, priority farmland parcels, and specific crop locations. We will also review pertinent planning and land use documents and evaluate local land use laws for their influence on agriculture.

3) Analysis

An analysis of the data collected will inform four technical reports for the following topic areas:

  • Economic Viability
  • Agricultural Education
  • Land Use
  • Climate Resilience and Carbon Sequestration Practices

4) Draft and Final Plan

The plan will incorporate the work of the prior phases to create vision statements for each topic area, attainable and measurable goals, and recommendations for implementation strategies, which can include actions, projects, partnerships, funding opportunities and more.

The goals and recommendations will address topics including how to foster a sustainable agricultural community for the next 15 years, methods to reach farmers and the public regarding agricultural practices, suggested land use and other regulatory enhancements that will further the vision, methods to preserve farmlands, and economic development opportunities.

Adapting to Change

Agriculture is central to Ulster County's identity and heritage, a defining feature of the landscape, and a key driver of the County's economy. Comprised primarily of small and mid-sized farms, our agricultural sector produces a rich diversity of products for regional, national, and international markets, while providing our communities with access to fresh local foods. In the last few decades, many farmers have had to adapt to changing economic conditions and reinvent how they do business. In addition to economic challenges, farmers also face challenges from a warming climate, including more severe and unpredictable weather and new pests and diseases. The overarching purpose of this plan is to help Ulster County farmers meet these challenges, take advantage of new opportunities, and promote a diverse, sustainable, and resilient agricultural sector for the long-term.

Participate in shaping the future of our farms as Ulster County undertakes a comprehensive update of its Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan.

Encompassing four NYS-certified agricultural districts spanning over 71,500 acres, alongside a diverse range of specialty farms and vibrant farmers markets, our agricultural landscape stands as a formidable economic engine. Rooted in a rich history of nourishing both local communities and extending its reach to New York City and beyond, agriculture remains a cornerstone of our County's identity, evident in the picturesque vistas along stream valleys and hillsides. This update to the Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan will equip us with the essential resources to shepherd agriculture into the future, preserving its integral role within the fabric of Ulster County.

Development of the plan is a collaborative effort of the Ulster County Planning Department, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County, the Ulster County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board, and the Ulster County Soil and Water Conservation District.

The Plan update will focus on the future needs of the agricultural community and include strategies to increase the economic viability of agricultural industries, encourage farmland protection, create opportunities for new farmers, and raise public interest and awareness of agriculture’s importance as part of our economic and land-use future.

The plan involves four phases:

1) Public Engagement

Public outreach consists of county-wide surveys, interviews of key stakeholders, focus groups, and ongoing project updates for the public. The survey was completed on December 1, 2023. There were 266 responses to the survey:

  • 95 from farmers,
  • 166 from the general public not involved in farming, and
  • 5 from those who rent land to farmers.

The survey's summary points can be found to the right under Documents.

The project's consultants conducted a dozen interviews with farmers and those from organizations conduct business with farmers. Six focus groups were also conducted in early 2024. These focus groups were on the following:

  • Land Access
  • Vegetable Growing
  • Fruit Growing and Orchards
  • Agritourism and Craft Beverages
  • Farmland Preservation
  • Agricultural Distribution and Processing

2) Data Collection and Mapping

We will create an inventory of agricultural programs currently accessible to farmers and agricultural businesses at federal, state, and local levels. Additionally, we will collect comprehensive county-level agricultural economic data to gain a deeper understanding of existing production and markets, as well as potential ones. Our efforts will involve the development of an agricultural database integrated with maps. These maps will encompass prime soils, rented farmlands, parcels receiving agricultural assessments and located within agricultural districts, priority farmland parcels, and specific crop locations. We will also review pertinent planning and land use documents and evaluate local land use laws for their influence on agriculture.

3) Analysis

An analysis of the data collected will inform four technical reports for the following topic areas:

  • Economic Viability
  • Agricultural Education
  • Land Use
  • Climate Resilience and Carbon Sequestration Practices

4) Draft and Final Plan

The plan will incorporate the work of the prior phases to create vision statements for each topic area, attainable and measurable goals, and recommendations for implementation strategies, which can include actions, projects, partnerships, funding opportunities and more.

The goals and recommendations will address topics including how to foster a sustainable agricultural community for the next 15 years, methods to reach farmers and the public regarding agricultural practices, suggested land use and other regulatory enhancements that will further the vision, methods to preserve farmlands, and economic development opportunities.

Adapting to Change

Agriculture is central to Ulster County's identity and heritage, a defining feature of the landscape, and a key driver of the County's economy. Comprised primarily of small and mid-sized farms, our agricultural sector produces a rich diversity of products for regional, national, and international markets, while providing our communities with access to fresh local foods. In the last few decades, many farmers have had to adapt to changing economic conditions and reinvent how they do business. In addition to economic challenges, farmers also face challenges from a warming climate, including more severe and unpredictable weather and new pests and diseases. The overarching purpose of this plan is to help Ulster County farmers meet these challenges, take advantage of new opportunities, and promote a diverse, sustainable, and resilient agricultural sector for the long-term.

Page last updated: 21 Feb 2024, 09:48 AM