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Nearly 1,500 acres will be added to ag districts

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 July 2013 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – The grain storage facility in Knowlesville along Route 31 is shown during a sunset earlier this week. The county is seeing an increased demand in farmland.

ALBION – Farmers in Orleans County have formally requested that nearly 1,500 acres of land be put in certified agricultural districts, which provide legal protections for farmers to do normal farm practices.

The County Legislature had a public hearing on the land inclusions on Wednesday. The Legislature endorsed the additions, which will now go to the state for its approval.

The county and state provide an opportunity every year for land to be added to an ag district. This year is the biggest increase on an annual basis in many years, county officials said.

They credit an increased demand and value for farmland, driven partly by a big rise in corn and grain prices. The county has the added benefit of an ethanol plant in Medina, which has proven to have an insatiable appetite for corn, using about 20 million bushels a year.

Farmers want to add 1,452 acres to ag districts in Barre, Clarendon, Carlton, Gaines, Murray and Ridgeway.

The size of acreage varies from 0.57 acre owned by Susan Machamer on North State Street Road in Murray to 298.8 acres owned by Gary and Sue Ellen Davy on Ridge Road in Gaines.

The Orleans County Farmland Protection Board endorsed the additions on July 10.

Just because the land is in an ag district that doesn’t mean farmers can do whatever they want with the property.

“You still have to do it correctly and by the rules,” said Barry Flansburg, the Farmland Protection Board chairman.