Skoda Farm joins major easement program

TAGHKANIC–The Columbia Land Conservancy (CLC) along with the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Scenic Hudson, the Dutchess Land Conservancy (DLC) and a number of public officials announced last week that federal Farm Bill funding has enabled Scenic Hudson and its partners to complete the purchase of conservation easements on seven working family farms in Columbia and Dutchess counties.

Among the farms participating is the 481-acre Triple Creek Farm in Taghkanic, which has been in the family of Richard and Melissa Skoda for 100 years. Richard is a third generation dairy farmer; his sons Ryan and Joshua are fourth generation. Their herd is all registered Holsteins. They milk 170 cows.

Triple Creek Farm a major dairy farm that supplies milk directly to the regional market as a member of the Hudson Valley Fresh cooperative. The multigenerational farm is contiguous with other lands conserved by the Columbia Land Conservancy and has high quality soils.

The total cost of all seven projects is more than $5.1 million, including $2.56 million in funding from the Farm Bill, Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program, $1.5 million from Scenic Hudson, $220,000 from Dutchess County and $445,000 from the Town of Red Hook. Both CLC and DLC covered the transaction and closing costs on the farm easements.

The transactions will provide a direct infusion of capital to the farmers involved, who can then invest the funds in the productive capacity of their farms. CLC will hold, monitor and enforce the easements for four of the parcels in Columbia County, while Scenic Hudson will manage the remaining easement there.

The USDA provides up to 50% of the fair market easement value of the conservation easements.

Congressman Chris Gibson (R-19th) praised the program and said in a release that he would “always be a tireless advocate for” conservation easements in Congress,” adding, “I look forward to continuing to work with all the partners engaged in this critical effort.”

Conservation easements, also called purchase of development rights, enable preservation of agricultural lands. In this case the easements encompass 950 acres on five Columbia County farms – three in Stuyvesant and one each in Taghkanic and Livingston.

The farms are:

Mountain View Farm (136 acres) in Stuyvesant is leased to a local dairy farmer for production of hay and corn

Dow & Begin’s Farm (146 acres) in Stuyvesant is contiguous with other farmlands conserved by Scenic Hudson. The farm produces high quality hay that is used by other farmers for their dairy and equine operations

Heron Farm (56 acres) in Stuyvesant also is contiguous with other farmland preserved by Scenic Hudson. The productive fields are leased to a large dairy farm for feed hay. A young farm family has recently acquired the farm and is looking to ramp up vegetable production and to possibly establish a day camp to teach vegetable growing to children

Another 137-acre farm in Livingston leased for production of hay and grains that connects with other conserved farmlands. The property also has a spring-fed class C trout stream.


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