CLC secures grants for at-risk farms

CHATHAM – Two Columbia County farms have been awarded state grants that will play a critical role in protecting 312 acres of important farmland under conservation easement and enable these farm families to invest in the future of their businesses. These awards are part of $35 million in Farmland Protection Grants that will protect 13,000 acres of farmland across the state of New York.

“We’re incredibly pleased that these grants have been awarded,” Columbia Land Conservancy Executive Director Peter Paden said in a press release. “These grants will ensure the viability of a new generation of family operations that exemplify the county’s agricultural heritage.”

Columbia Land Conservancy (CLC) submitted successful applications on behalf of the Saulpaugh and Grimaldi farm families for New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets Farmland Protection Implementation Grant (NYSDAM FPIG) awards, which will be distributed once the families work with CLC to complete these projects and permanently protect their farms. The FPIG awards are made possible by New York State’s Environmental Protection Fund. The Scenic Hudson Land Trust is working closely with CLC on the Saulpaugh project and will contribute funds to match the state award.

“Scenic Hudson applauds the Saulpaugh and Grimaldi families, who have committed to permanently conserve their land. We are deeply grateful to Governor Cuomo, the state Legislature, and the New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets for investing in the Hudson Valley’s agricultural future by partnering with us and CLC to conserve the Saulpaugh family farm. Operations like this are critical for sustaining supplies of fresh, local food to homes throughout the region and New York City—the goal of Scenic Hudson’s Foodshed Conservation Plan,” Steve Rosenberg, executive director of The Scenic Hudson Land Trust, said in the release.

The Saulpaugh family has owned the 115 acres of land that will be protected with a conservation easement for more than 75 years. At one point, VR Saulpaugh & Sons was the largest supplier of fresh green beans in the Hudson Valley, and was farming a total of 1,500 acres of land predominately growing green beans and grapes. As local agricultural markets shifted in the 1980s, the Saulpaughs transitioned their business to a grain operation. In 2013, as part of their own transition away from their dairy operation, the Kukon Brothers, LLC began to work with the Saulpaughs to take over the grain operation. The Kukons currently farm on 125 acres of land they own and an additional 2,500 acres of leased land.

This grant will enable the Kukons to purchase this property from the Saulpaughs and continue to grow their business producing corn, beans, wheat, oats and hay. The farmland will also be protected from development and remain affordable for farmers in the future thanks to one of the first state-funded Pre-emptive Purchase Right agreements. Scenic Hudson Land Trust will work closely with CLC on this project and contribute matching funds to this award.

Dom, Mario, and Joe Grimaldi of M. Grimaldi & Sons, LLC. Photo contributed

The NYSDAM FPIG award to M. Grimaldi & Sons, LLC will protect two properties totaling 206 acres of farmland in the towns of Ghent and Stockport. M. Grimaldi & Sons, LLC is a family-owned and operated beef farm that Mario Grimaldi began as a 65-acre dairy in 1982. In the mid-1990s, Mario’s two sons, Joseph and Dominic, joined the business and with their father began to transition the farm to beef production. Since that time, M. Grimaldi & Sons, LLC has become certified organic and expanded to manage 200 grass-fed cattle on 200 acres of owned farmland and an additional 600 acres of leased land.

The Grimaldis currently sell their meat by the quarter or half cow, and as select cuts direct to consumers, to other farms to be sold at farmers markets, and wholesale their product to an online meat distributor. This grant will enable them to invest in the future of their farm and increase local sales while guaranteeing that this farmland will be available for agriculture long into the future. M. Grimaldi & Sons, LLC, will provide a matching donation to this award.

To learn more about CLC’s Farmland Access, Resources, and Matching program, visit or contact Terence Duvall at 518-392-5252 X 225 or .

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