Two Local Dairy Farms Preserved Forever
MILLBROOK, NY (1/23/13) –Two local dairy farmers recently ensured that their land will remain available for farming for current and future generations. Brothers Kevin and Greg Smith of Sunset Ridge Farm in Millerton and Tim and Carolyn Marshall of Bos-Haven Farm in Union Vale signed conservation easements on December 26th ensuring the forever protection of their farms. The Smiths and the Marshalls worked very closely with Dutchess Land Conservancy (DLC), Dutchess County, the State Department of Agriculture and Markets, and Union Vale to ensure a successful outcome of a process which began years ago with applications to the State and County Farmland Protection Programs.
This is great news for this area because according to the American Farmland Trust, the Hudson Valley is “part of the tenth most threatened agricultural regions in the country, where prime agricultural soils and suburban development pressures are on a collision course.” New York continues to lose a farm to development every three and one half days. Over the last 25 years, the State has lost a half a million acres of farmland to subdivisions, strip malls and other scattered development. These two dairy farms are only two of less than 20 dairy farms remaining in the County.
Farms contribute to our $800 million regional agricultural economy and to a $4.7 billion tourism economy that creates 80,000 jobs in the Hudson Valley. Protecting farmland can also help keep local taxes in check because they are privately owned and managed and use fewer municipal services than if the land was developed into residential lots. “It’s a lot less expensive to save our farms now then it will be to try to recreate them once they are developed. Farms contribute immensely to our state and local economy and to our quality of life,” noted DLC’s President Becky Thornton.
Located in the Coleman Station historic district with the Harlem Valley Rail Trail close by, Sunset Ridge Farm’s owners operate an 80-head dairy. They market their milk through the Agri-Mark Co-op, and sell hay to local and regional horse farms. The Smiths also farm several nearby properties. The area surrounding the farm has remained almost entirely open, and continues to constitute a core area of viable farm operations. The easement adds to over 4,450 acres that DLC has helped to protect in the Millerton area. During this multi-year process, the Smiths received numerous offers to purchase the farm, and offers to buy their herd at high market prices, but they consistently turned offers down because of their commitment to see the farm conserved.
Bos-Haven Farm is one of the premiere dairy farms in Dutchess County. Tim Marshall and family learned about the dairy business from Tim’s father Don Marshall and grandfather Stanley Benham who had farmed the land since 1946. The Benham family had been farming in the Town of Washington area since the 1800’s – mostly for subsistence – but when the railroads extended to the area from New York City, they seized the opportunity to sell milk to city residents. The farm has one of the largest concentrations of prime farmland in the County, is a Dairy of Distinction receiving many other awards for its farming practices, and is widely considered a model dairy farm. They market their milk through Hudson Valley Fresh. The farm has consistently produced extremely high yields of milk and crops due to its excellent soil resources and its careful implementation of conservation farming methods. With this easement, DLC has helped to protect over 980 acres in the area.
The protection of these two farms demonstrates the continued cooperation between DLC, Dutchess County, the State and local towns. County Executive Marc Molinaro agrees and states, “Dutchess County is very pleased to be a partner in protecting Sunset Ridge and Bos Haven Farms, and I congratulate the Smith and Marshall families for their commitment to preserving our County’s agricultural heritage. The foundation of our Open Space and Farmland Protection program is collaboration, and Dutchess Land Conservancy has been an invaluable partner in bringing these projects to successful conclusions, as have New York State and the Town of Union Vale.” Town of Union Vale Supervisor Lisette Hitsman added, “The Town of Union Vale has enjoyed working with Dutchess Land Conservancy on this, our second conservation easement in the Town. We are delighted to be part of keeping the Bos Haven Farm acreage in agriculture.”
Since 1985, DLC has protected over 36,100 acres of land or 56 square miles of our area’s significant landscapes; this equals an area twice the size of Manhattan. Dutchess County, through its Partnership for Manageable Growth, Open Space and Farmland Protection Matching Grant Program, has helped protect 13 working farms and over 2,500 acres since the inception of the program in the late 90’s. New York State’s Farmland Protection Program, established in 1996, supports local efforts to protect agricultural land from development and ensure the economic viability of agriculture. The State’s Program is funded by the state’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). So far the State has helped preserve seven projects in Dutchess County. The Town of Union Vale has now helped to protect two key farms in its own community.
“DLC is very proud to continue to partner with the County, State, and our local municipalities to protect critical farmland. It is gratifying to work in an area where land conservation is a true collaboration between conservation organizations, concerned citizens and local government. Protecting open land in Dutchess County and preserving our precious natural and agricultural resources is an investment in our future,” added Becky Thornton.
For more information about DLC or conservation easements, please call us at (845) 677-3002.