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> Planning - Rural Resources - PDR

Tompkins County Farmland Protection

through Purchase of Development Rights (PDR)


How is farmland protected in Tompkins County?

A variety of tools are used to help support farming in Tompkins County including the use of agricultural districts, agricultural assessment, agricultural zoning, local planning efforts (including comprehensive planning and right to farm laws) and agricultural conservation easements or Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) programs.

PDR programs pay property owners to protect their land from development. Landowners voluntarily sell agricultural conservation easements to a government agency or private conservation organization. The agency or organization usually pays them the difference between the value of the land for agriculture and the value of the land for its “highest and best use,” which is generally residential or commercial development. Easement value is most often determined by professional appraisals.

PDR programs allow farmers to cash in a fair percentage of the equity in their land, thus creating a financially competitive alternative to selling land for non-agricultural uses. Permanent easements prevent development that would pave over the land and render it inaccessible for agriculture. Removing the development potential from farmland generally reduces its future market value. This may help facilitate farm transfer to the children of farmers and make the land more affordable to beginning farmers and others who want to buy it for agricultural purposes. These programs provide landowners with liquid capital that can enhance the economic viability of individual farming operations and help family’s hold onto the land from generation to generation. Finally, PDR programs give communities a way to plan for and share the costs of protecting agricultural land with the local farmers.

New York State’s PDR program is called the Farmland Protection Implementation Grants (FPIG) Program. It isadministered through the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets, in cooperation with Town and County government sponsors and willing farmers. It is a very competitive statewide program that typically has one award cycle per year.


2016 Tompkins County PDR Application Schedule

April 25, 2016, 5PM - Pre-Applications Due to County Planning (sdoyle@tompkins-co.org or 121 E. Court Street, Ithaca, NY 14850)

May 2016

  • Pre-Applications reviewed and ranked by Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board (AFPB).
  • Applications selected for submission to State.
  • Local government sponsor works with farmer to detail grant proposal for submission to State.
  • Grant proposals submitted to State.

June 13, 2016 - Grant applications due to New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets.

Fall 2016 - New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets notifies applicants of funding status.


Resource Links


Contact Information
Tompkins County Farmland Protection efforts are coordinated through Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County. For more information on these efforts contact Scott Doyle with the Tompkins County Planning Department at 274-5560 or email Planning Department here