Nearly 10,000 acres added to county’s ag district

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 August 2016 at 5:21 pm
cornfield on Brown Road

Photo by Tom Rivers – A field of corn is pictured Wednesday on Brown Road in the Town of Gaines, just south of Ridge Road.

ALBION – Orleans County has added 9,788 acres to its newly consolidated agricultural district. That represents a 9.3 percent increase in ag district acreage, bringing the county total to 115,518 acres.

The county this year moved to consolidate three ag districts into one. The change should make it easier for farmers for the reviews every eight years.

Many of the farms work land that cross town boundaries. Some of the ag districts had different review cycles and farmers might inadvertently leave land out of an ag district if they didn’t send in paperwork.

“This has gone smoother than we thought,” Planning Director Jim Bensley advised the County Legislature last week.

The ag community has responded to the process as evidence by the increase in land for the ag district. Farmers will still have an option every June to add land to the ag district. However, if farmers want to remove land from the district they need to wait eight years for the next review.

The county used to have 10 ag districts and shrunk it to three, with a northern district in the towns of Yates, Carlton and Kendall; a middle district with Ridgeway, Gaines, Albion and Murray; and a southern district with the towns of Shelby, Barre and Clarendon.

Now all of the towns are in one consolidated district. The County Legislature approved the change in January, saying it will be simpler and more convenient for farmers, and also be more efficient for the County Planning Department, which administers the ag district.

Agricultural Districts are established by New York State Agriculture and Markets Law to provide for the protection of agricultural lands. Farmers with land in an ag district are protected from lawsuits from neighbors who complain about normal farm practices, such as odors, dirt on roads, and working in fields early in the morning or late at night.

The changes in the county’s ag district go before the state Department of Agriculture and Markets for review, and are expected to get a final OK by the County Legislature in October.