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Madison County Agricultural District Program open enrollment period coming in October

October has been designated as Madison County's “open enrollment” period during which properties can be added to an existing agricultural district.

“The purpose of agricultural districting is to encourage the continued use of farmland for agricultural production,” according to Bob Sommers, director of the Agricultural Protection Unit at New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. “The program is based on a combination of landowner incentives and protections, all of which are designed to forestall the conversion of farmland to non-agricultural uses. Included in these benefits are preferential real property tax treatments e.g. agricultural assessment and special benefit assessment and protections against overly restrictive local laws, government funded acquisition or construction projects, and private nuisance suits involving agricultural practices.”

Each survey form asks for the Tax Parcel ID number and acreage of the property. A description of the land must be included with the request. All requests for inclusion into an agricultural district must be postmarked by Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013. Contact Madison County Planning Department by calling 366-2376 and ask for a survey form.

The legal criteria for an addition requires that the land be highly suitable for agricultural production, and that there be evidence of ongoing, genuine farm activities such as annual gross farm sales, recent capital farm investment, and evidence of it being a major farm operation.

Agricultural Districts play a vital role in protecting agricultural land in Madison County. Agricultural farmland accounts for close to 41 percent of Madison County’s entire area.

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