Albany County, New York
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The Agricultural Districts Program encourages and protects agricultural land use in farm areas once threatened by overdevelopment. Voluntary enrollment in the program provides farmers with a variety of benefits and protections.
In 1971, the New York State Legislature created an Agricultural Districts Program in response to concerns that non-agricultural land uses were expanding into valuable farm areas. This program, based on Agriculture and Markets Agricultural District Law Article 25-AA, allows the creation of Agricultural Districts where agriculture is encouraged and protected. Agricultural Districts programs are authorized at the state level and implemented at the county level. These districts are not the same as agricultural zoning that a town may have although the two often overlap. Voluntary enrollment in the program provides farmers with benefits including:
The first Agricultural District in Albany County was created in the towns of Berne and Knox and certified in July 1974. Between 1974 and 1977, the Albany County Legislature formed five more Agricultural Districts. In the early 1980s, the Agricultural District Law was amended to allow parcels to be placed in an Agricultural District that were not contiguous. This led to consolidation of what was once six districts into the three current Agricultural Districts:
Participation in Albany County’s Agricultural Districts Program has steadily increased since its inception. Today, there are 71,017 acres of land included in the three districts, which represents most of the County’s productive agricultural land. The majority of the contiguous blocks of districted agricultural land are in the rural towns of Berne, Knox, Westerlo, and Rensselaerville, although the increasingly suburban town of New Scotland also has a significant amount of acreage remaining in agriculture. Agricultural District lands are somewhat dispersed throughout the Town of Coeymans and the more densely populated towns of Guilderland, Colonie, and Bethlehem.
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