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Ag District Applications to Be Accepted and Reviewed

Monticello, NY – Sullivan County will be conducting its annual 30-day window for accepting applications to include viable agricultural land into the County’s Agricultural Districts. At the same time, the County will also be conducting its eight-year review of Agricultural District 1.  

Land that is included in a county agricultural district certified by the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets becomes eligible for the protections of New York’s Right-to-Farm Law, which prohibits the unreasonable restriction of sound agricultural practices. Since 1971, the creation of certified Agricultural Districts under NYS Agriculture and Markets Law has been important to the State and County level efforts to preserve, protect, and encourage the development and improvement of agricultural land for the production of food and other agricultural products. 

Agricultural districts are required to be reviewed by the County and recertified by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets for agricultural viability every eight years. During the review process, landowners can elect to have their land remain in the district, remove their land from the district, or request to add land to the district. 

Please note that while land can be added to an agricultural district each year through the annual inclusion process, land can only be removed through the eight-year review process. Landowners who want their land to remain in an agricultural district do not need to take any action during the eight-year review.

Beginning April 1, 2021, all landowners who are currently enrolled in Sullivan County’s Agricultural District 1 will be contacted by mail with a worksheet form to be completed and returned by April 30, 2021. Agricultural District 1 includes lands in the towns of Bethel, Callicoon, Cochecton, Delaware, Fremont, Forestburgh, Liberty, Thompson and Tusten and presently consists of 112,456 acres.

The period April 1, 2021 through April 30, 2021 also marks the annual 30-day window for inclusion of viable agricultural land into Agricultural District 4. During this period, the County will accept applications from property owners seeking to be included in this District. Agricultural District 4 includes lands in the towns of Bethel, Fallsburg, Forestburgh, Highland, Liberty, Mamakating, Neversink, Rockland, Thompson and the villages of Bloomingburg and Wurtsboro.

After April 30, the Sullivan County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board will review all applications received and make recommendations to the Sullivan County Legislature. The County Legislature will conduct separate public hearings for the Agricultural District 1 eight-year review and the Agricultural District 4 30-day window. Following review and approval by the Sullivan County Legislature, the proposed modification of Agricultural District 1, and the proposed inclusion of land into Agricultural District 4, will be reviewed and certified by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

Property owners who wish to be included in either Agricultural District, or who have questions about Agricultural Districts in general, should contact Melinda Meddaugh at Cornell Cooperative Extension Sullivan County, staff support for the Sullivan County Agricultural and Protection Board, at 845-292-6180 x116 or email mm2592@cornell.edu.

For more information on Agricultural Districts and to review maps of Agriculture District 1 and 4, visit the Division of Planning and Community Development website at: https://www.sullivanny.us/Departments/PlanningEnvironmental/AgriculturalDistricts.

Maps and applications are available for review at the Division of Planning and Community Development Office, located on the second floor of the Sullivan County Government Center, 100 North Street, Monticello, NY 12701. Maps are also available for review at the Sullivan County Clerk’s Office, and at the town halls for the towns of Bethel, Callicoon, Delaware and Thompson.  If you plan to visit one of these offices in person, please call ahead to ensure compliance with social distancing protocols.