ANCRAM—Ancram loves its farms and farmers.
And to make sure they both stick around, the Town Board passed its own local Right to Farm Law, July 21.
Ancram calls itself a “Historic Farming Community Moving Forward” on all its literature and has devoted much time and effort into producing an Agriculture and Farmland Protection Plan (A&FPP), adopted in May 2011 as an addendum to the Comprehensive Plan, with accompanying maps and an Ancram Farming Inventory.
Of the town’s total 27,475 acres, 17,017 acres or 62% is farmed today, according to an Ancram Farming brochure printed by the town’s Agricultural Advisory Council in July 2013. Agriculture is Ancram’s largest employer and supports at least 15% of the town’s households, says the brochure.
According to 2007 U.S. Census data contained in the A&FPP, there were 31 farms in Ancram and Ancramdale.
Farm operations run the gamut from award-winning dairies to certified organic fruits and vegetables; horses to alpaca; locally-grown grains distilled onsite to grassfed beef, lamb and pasture-raised chicken and pork.
While both the state and the county have Right to Farm Laws, Town Supervisor Art Bassin said by phone this week, the town’s Right to Farm Law is a “reaffirmation of the town’s commitment to agriculture.” It is also a nod to the Comprehensive Plan’s aim to “encourage farming as a basic economic and environmental activity,” he said.
The law says its intent is to “maintain and preserve the rural traditions and character of the Town, to permit the continuation of agricultural practices, to protect the existence and operation of farms, to support the initiation of farms, farm enterprises and agri-business, to promote and encourage the use of Agricultural Best Management Practice Systems.”
The law also promotes “new ways to resolve disputes concerning agricultural practices and farm operations.” To maintain a viable farming economy, “it is necessary to limit the circumstances under which farming may be deemed to be a nuisance and to allow agricultural practices… to be undertaken free of unreasonable and unwarranted interference or restriction.”
Also, the law says farmers have the responsibility “to act as good neighbors and careful stewards of the land.”
At the July 21 meeting, Mr. Bassin said the only difference between the local law and the state law is that the local law requires that a notice be given to all property buyers that this is a farming community and they should be prepared for both “the good and the odorific.”
This disclosure notice tells prospective residents that “the property they are about to acquire lies partially or wholly within an agricultural district and that farming activities occur within the district. Such farming activities may include … activities that cause noise, dust and odors.”
Mr. Bassin said he receives multiple phone calls each fall from residents complaining about farmers spreading manure on their fields. The supervisor said by phone that he reminds the callers about the way it works, that many dairy farms store manure until the fall because they cannot spread it on the fields while the crops are growing. But after the crops are harvested all the manure goes on the fields.
The Town Board has been considering the law since January and conducted a public hearing in April.
The local law was adopted unanimously.
The next Town Board meeting is August 18 at 7 p.m.