(Hauppauge, NY-September 26, 2012) – Pointing out that Suffolk County has not overhauled its Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan since 1996, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone today announced plans to take a new look at Suffolk’s plan as the evolving agricultural sector faces new challenges. Through this planning effort, funded by a $50,000 grant from the New York State Department of Agriculture, in-kind services from the County and a grant of $10,000 from the Long Island Community Foundation, the County will identify specific strategies to strengthen the agricultural sector and expand its economic viability, while ensuring that farmlands and natural resources will be available for future generations.
According to Bellone, “Although Suffolk is number one in the state in terms of total value of agricultural products our agricultural sector has come under increasing economic pressures, including a trend to convert farmland to housing. In order to ensure that valuable agricultural resources are available for future generations, it is essential that farmland protection measures and sound land stewardship practices continue.”
The Department of Economic Development intends to conduct a farmland protection planning effort that will result in the development and adoption of an update to its 1996 Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan, in furtherance of its goals to protect viable farmlands and natural resources, to preserve its pastoral character, and to promote the agricultural industry on Long Island.
The update will address the following three topics:
• Sustainable local agricultural economic development,
• Agricultural land stewardship, and
• Access to affordable farmland.
The outcome of this farmland protection planning effort will be a set of specific strategies that may be implemented to expand economic development opportunities in the agricultural sector. It is anticipated that the updated plan will ensure that viable farmlands and natural resources will be available for future generations and will improve the overall the health and economy of the county.
According to Deputy County Executive and Commissioner of Economic Development & Planning Joanne Minieri, “The total value of agricultural products that will be sold in Suffolk during 2012 is estimated at approximately $294 million. Additionally, the prime soil on Suffolk’s East End enables wine, horticulture and agri-tourism markets that sustain Suffolk’s $2 billion tourism industry. This is a critical industry in Suffolk County and revamping our protection plan to reflect this evolving sector is a priority.”
State Agricultural Commissioner Darrel J. Aubertine said, “Protecting and preserving New York’s agricultural landscape is extremely important for local economies. Suffolk County is one of New York’s largest agricultural counties, and this funding will help County Executive Bellone and his team plan for the County’s agricultural future.”
“In furtherance of our efforts to conserve Long Island’s working farms, the Peconic Land Trust is honored to assist Suffolk County to update its Agricultural Protection Plan. Our thanks to Governor Cuomo, Commissioner Aubertine, Suffolk County, the Long Island Community Foundation, and the Long Island Farm Bureau for making it possible. We look forward to fulfilling our role in this effort,” said John v.H. Halsey, President, Peconic Land Trust.
“The Long Island Community Foundation (LICF) applauds Suffolk County for securing a New York State Agricultural Protection planning grant,” said David M Okorn, Executive Director. “LICF has a long history of supporting the Peconic Land Trust in its partnership with Suffolk County to involve the community in creating strategies that will sustain the farming industry so integral to Long Island’s identity, culture and economy.
Long Island Farm Bureau Director Joseph Gergela said, “The Long Island Farm Bureau is extremely pleased with Suffolk County Executive Bellone’s plan to develop new strategies for protecting Suffolk’s agricultural land. The vigilance of the agricultural community and the partnership between farmers, Suffolk County, the Peconic Land Trust and the LICF will be critical to the future economic viability of Suffolk’s farming industry.”