Erie County has developed a new Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan for 2012, replacing the last such version of the plan published in 1996.
The creation of the plan was supported by a 2010 New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets agricultural planning grant, with additional key funds from the Erie County Community Development Block Grant Program. The Erie County Department of Environment and Planning and the Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board led the public process to gather community input.
Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plans identify ways to support local agriculture through economic and land-based strategies. The 2012 Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan for Erie County will guide the practice of agricultural planning in the County throughout the next ten years.
The document includes an analysis of agriculture as it currently exists in the county and identifies major strategies, tools, and other planning documents that can help Erie County maintain the strength of its agricultural sector and farmland. Two main strategies have been identified in the plan.
First, the plan seeks to “keep land in agricultural production by protecting farmland, helping a new generation to farm, and improving the viability of all farms in the county.” Objectives to support this goal include the retention of 95% of 2007 agricultural acres in the county, the development of a potential community college agricultural training program, and the enhancement of agro-tourism initiatives.
The plan’s second main strategy is to “inform the public, local leaders, and elected officials about the benefits that agriculture provides and support policy and legislative changes that will improve farm viability.” Supporting objectives include the establishment of an annual county-wide agricultural event, the purchase of 20% local food by county institutions, and the documentation of the importance of agriculture by 50% of municipalities in the county.
Students from the University at Buffalo participated in the effort by developing a food system assessment on behalf of Erie County and the American Farmland Trust, the agency charged with developing the Farmland Preservation Plan. Read more about the student report, Room at the Table: Food System Assessment of Erie County, here.
For more information about the plan and to see the plan in its entirety online, please visit the Erie County Department of Environment and Planning webpage at: