Public workshop for Madison County farmland protection to be held in April

The Towns of Cazenovia, Nelson and Lincoln are working together to prepare Agriculture & Farmland Protection Plans, assisted by grant funding from the NYS Department of Agriculture & Markets. A Steering Committee including farmers, local officials and landowners from each of the three towns is coordinating the planning effort.

Farmers, farmland owners, business operators and residents are invited to attend a public workshop on Saturday, April 2. There will be two sessions: 11 a.m. at the Lincoln Town Hall, and 2 p.m. at the Nelson Town Hall. Light refreshments will be provided.

The workshops will provide an opportunity for all participants to share their perspectives on farming issues with the Steering Committee that is working on the Farmland Protection Plan, as well as Town officials from Nelson, Cazenovia and Lincoln, and the Town's planning consultant. Representatives of the agencies that are involved in farmland and agriculture in Madison County have been invited to attend.

The Farmland Protection Plans will describe farming in Nelson, Cazenovia and Lincoln, and the significance of agriculture to the community and the regional economy, identify issues and opportunities relating to farmland, agricultural practices and agriculture-related businesses. Tools that can be applied by town governments and others at the local and regional level to support farming and agribusiness will be identified, and a plan of action that identifies specific tasks, responsible entities, sources of funding, and a timeframe for implementation will be prepared.

The towns expect to complete their Farmland Protection Plans by early 2012.

The workshop will feature a brief introduction of, and presentations from, representatives of organizations that work with farmers in Madison County. Representatives of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Madison County, Soil & Water Conservation District, and Farm Bureau have been invited to participate.

An overview of the planning process and the agricultural resources in Nelson, Cazenovia and Lincoln will include interactive exercises to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats relating to agriculture in Nelson, Cazenovia and Lincoln will be facilitated by Stuart I. Brown Associates, the consulting firm retained by the three towns.

These workshops are the first in a series to support the Farmland Protection Plans. Two other public workshops, planned for summer 2011, will focus on agricultural economic development as well as farmland protection strategies such as conservation easements, land use regulations, local rights to farm laws and tax relief programs.

For additional information, contact Barbara Henderson, of Cazenovia Area Community Development, at 655-7651 or Barbara Johnston, of Stuart I. Brown Associates at (585) 295-6636.

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