New farmland protection projects on the horizon

The Town of Red Hook has thrown its support behind two new farmland protection projects, following the successful conservation easement placed on several parcels along Kerley Corners Road. The two properties are the 157-acre Jim & Corina Greig Farm and the 150-acre Kalina Farm.

Scenic Hudson is working with the landowners on applications for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm and Ranchland Protection Program. At the April 26 town board meeting, a unanimous resolution was passed to issue a letter to the USDA, urging it to fund the two projects.

“Agriculture is the top economic industry in Dutchess County and one of the most significant contributors to the economy of upstate New York,” noted Supervisor Sue Crane in the letter. “Protection of the Greig and Kalina farm properties will add to the critical mass of protected farmland in our community.”

The USDA farm protection program assists municipalities in purchasing development rights to economically important farmland. Once the rights are obtained, the municipality is be able to maintain the land’s agricultural focus, even if the ownership of the property changes hands.

According to Cari Watkins-Bates, Senior Land Project Manager for Scenic Hudson, the cost of the purchase would be split, with the USDA paying 50 percent and the Town of Red Hook and Scenic Hudson each paying 25 percent.. With the Kerley Corners parcels, the projected cost of the acquisition would be $1,762,833, with the town paying $440,708 of that amount.

For now, the town board has only offered its support for the applications. If the USDA approves, Red Hook will then have to decide if funding the projects is a priority.

A report by Scenic Hudson suggests that the parcels are likely to attract the attention of the USDA because of the very high soil quality at both locations and based on the two farms’ importance to the local economy.

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