From April 1-30, Sullivan County will accept applications to include viable agricultural land into Agricultural District 1 and/or 4. At the same time, the County will conduct its eight-year review of Agricultural District 4.
What Is an Ag District?
Land that is included in a county agricultural district certified by the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets becomes eligible for the protections of New York’s Right-to-Farm Law, which prohibits the unreasonable restriction of sound agricultural practices.
Since 1971, the creation of certified Agricultural Districts under NYS Agriculture and Markets Law has been important to the State- and county-level efforts to preserve, protect, and encourage the development and improvement of agricultural land for the production of food and other agricultural products.
How to Apply for Inclusion
During the month of April, Sullivan County will accept applications from property owners seeking to be included in Agricultural District 1 (which includes lands in the towns of Bethel, Callicoon, Cochecton, Delaware, Fremont, Forestburgh, Liberty, Thompson and Tusten) and 4 (which includes lands in the towns of Bethel, Highland, Fallsburg, Forestburgh, Liberty, Lumberland, Mamakating, Neversink, Rockland, Thompson and Tusten, and the villages of Bloomingburg and Wurtsboro).
The Eight-Year Review of District 4
Agricultural districts are required to be reviewed by the County and recertified by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets for agricultural viability every eight years. During the review process, landowners can elect to have their land remain in the district, remove their land from the district, or request to add land to the district. (Please note that while land can be added to an agricultural district each year, land can only be removed through the eight-year review process.)
In April, all landowners who are currently enrolled in Sullivan County’s Agricultural District 4 will be contacted by mail with a worksheet form to be completed and returned by April 30, 2023. Landowners who want their land to remain in an agricultural district do not need to take any action during the eight-year review.
What Happens After April?
After April 30, the Sullivan County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board will review all applications and make recommendations to the Sullivan County Legislature. The Legislature will conduct separate public hearings for the Agricultural District 4 eight-year review and the Agricultural District 1 30-day window. Following review and approval by the Legislature, the proposed modification of Agricultural District 4 and the proposed inclusion of land into Agricultural District 1 will be reviewed and certified by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.
Property owners who wish to be included in either Agricultural District, or who have questions about Agricultural Districts in general, should contact Melinda Meddaugh at Cornell Cooperative Extension Sullivan County, staff support for the Sullivan County Agricultural and Protection Board, at 845-292-6180 x116 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on Agricultural Districts and to review maps of Agriculture District 1 and 4, visit the Cornell Cooperative Extension Sullivan County website at: http://sullivancce.org/agriculture/farmland-protection-ag-districts-vs-assessments.
Maps and applications are available for review at the Division of Planning and Community Development Office, located on the second floor of the Sullivan County Government Center, 100 North Street, Monticello. Maps are also available for review at the Sullivan County Clerk’s Office and at the town halls for Bethel, Fallsburg, Mamakating and Thompson.