Return home

LETTER: Solar energy projects put development pressure on farmland

Posted 5/20/22

The business of farming is constantly changing, and with that the amount of land actively farmed has decreased in many places, including Oneida County. In addition, the proliferation of solar energy …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

LETTER: Solar energy projects put development pressure on farmland

Posted

The business of farming is constantly changing, and with that the amount of land actively farmed has decreased in many places, including Oneida County. In addition, the proliferation of solar energy projects has created new development pressure on farmland.

Oneida County’s Farmland Protection Board recognizes the importance of developing renewable energy, as well as the need for individual farm landowners to make prudent financial decisions for their families. We advocate for a balanced approach.

In New York State, most decisions that affect farmland are made at the town level, in the form of planning, zoning, and permitting actions. The system of “home rule” allows residents to determine the future of their neighborhoods.

New York’s Department of Agriculture and Markets has funding of up to $25,000 available for towns that undertake municipal planning projects focused on how to protect agricultural lands through zoning, land use, and subdivision regulations. To qualify for this grant, towns must commit 25% of the total project cost, of which up to 80% can be in-kind services.

Towns can find assistance to apply for this grant locally. Oneida County, through their Planning Department and with assistance of their partner agency Cornell Cooperative Extension actively support these type of applications so towns can capitalize on this opportunity.

The Oneida County Farmland Protection Board, with the support of the County Legislature and the County Executive, has been active in protecting this resource. In 2017, the legislature adopted an updated Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan. In 2021, the County Executive released “Agriculture-Friendly Oneida County - A Municipal Guide for Planning for Agriculture”, providing tools for local governments to ensure that quality, open farmland remains available for generations to come.

Agriculture continues to play a central role here, as a mainstay of our economy and as a contributor to our
quality of life. According to the most recent USDA Census of Agriculture, almost 1,000 farms in the County represent 24% of the total acreage. Agriculture also contributes to the county’s landscape and character; it provides access to fresh, healthy, local food products; it preserves open space and wildlife habitats; and it contributes to recreation and tourism attractions, including hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, and agri-tourism.

If you believe your town should participate we encourage you to contact them to ask them to participate in
this opportunity.

— Oneida County Farmland Protection Board, c/o Cornell Cooperative Extension, Town of Whitestown

Comments

No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here