Stage Two: Recommendations

Leadership
Establish a permanent town agricultural committee to oversee the implementation of the Keep Farming initiatives, continue the promotion of agriculture, coordinate citizen involvement, and investigate and coordinate access to private and public funds for ag-related initiatives.

 

Local Food System
Support the development of the infrastructure necessary to provide a sustainable, local healthy food system.

 

Community Education and Awareness
Work with the town board to establish an identity consistent with the town’s vision for agriculture.

 

Local Schools
Work with local schools to help keep agriculture in the minds of our children. Promote farming and ag-related businesses as potential career choices. Enhance awareness of the role of farming in the town and build understanding of the importance of a local food system.

 

Landowner/Farmer Partnerships
Facilitate a mutually beneficial relationship between the town’s farmers and the landowners who own 50% of the land in agricultural use.

 

NYS Ag District Designation
Use this law to protect farms and farming in the town.

 

Feasibility Study
Work with a) an interested commodity dairy farmer; or b) someone interested in entering farming; or c) someone who owns a large tract of land who wishes to convert to agricultural use to secure funding for a feasibility study to determine the best way to convert the active farmland to a different, more economically healthy agricultural operation.

 

Regional Activism
Act with other towns in the Hudson Valley to promote a regional farming agenda and to enhance the Town’s ability to impact issues such as farm policies, taxes, and enhanced funding for agricultural initiatives. These partnerships will also promote the ability of Chatham farmers to distribute local products more effectively. Leverage the capabilities of local organizations to act in areas of mutual interest, including but not limited to the Glynwood Center, NYS Ag and Markets, Farm Bureau, Columbia Land Conservancy, Columbia Hudson Partnership, Hudson Valley Agriculture Partnership, Cornell Cooperative Extension, and American Farmland Trust.

 

Taxation Policies
As part of regional activism, place a high priority on getting the State to apply ag exemptions to both land and buildings as long as the land is being farmed. CAP to create a position statement that the town supports and lobbies for.

 

Land Use Management
The town’s revised plan to include mechanisms that support keeping agricultural land open and available for farming in the future, while respecting the current landowner’s financial position and rights, including:

 

Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) Program
This program, to be implemented by the town, involves the voluntary sale of non-agricultural development rights by a landowner to either a non-profit conservation organization or a government entity. The town to implement a PDR program to be managed in conjunction with the Columbia Land Conservancy, if their workload permits.

 

Bond Referendum
The town to submit a bond proposal to the public to generate funds for the preservation of farmland, based on the criteria developed by the Chatham Keep Farming Land Team and incorporated into the comprehensive plan.

 

The CAP (agriculture committee) to be authorized to move the process forward, including seeking funds and contracting to complete a fiscal analysis. The CAP to then act swiftly to contract with an entity that specializes in PDR bond financing to assist the town in the technical requirements of issuing a bond.

 

The monies generated through the bond referendum be used principally for the purchase of development rights (PDR) while keeping the leasing of development rights (LDR) as an option to help the town buy time and stabilize its farmland base while farmers expand, diversity, or transfer their operations.

 

An aggressive public education campaign to begin immediately, with a target date of November 2006 for the bond referendum.

 

Real Estate Transfer Fee
The town to use the Community Preservation Act to create Community Preservation Funds using a 2% real estate transfer fee. If this Act does not become law, the town to petition the state to create the 2% real estate transfer fee.

 

This Act requires the town to pass a local law and voter referendum to create a program where home buyers would pay a one-time fee of 2% of the purchase price above the median home value in Columbia County. These monies to be earmarked for accelerating the purchase of development rights of farmland and short-term leasing of development rights.