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The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets recently announced nearly $1.6 million would be awarded for conservation easement projects on dairy farms in Cayuga County.

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets announced Thursday that nearly $1.6 million will go toward protecting almost 700 acres of at-risk farmland in Cayuga County.

The state's Farmland Protection Implementation Grant program provides funds to local governments, Soil and Water Conservation Districts and land trusts to offset the costs of conservation easements used to protect viable agricultural land from being converted to non agricultural use, according to a release from the department of agriculture.

"New York Farm Bureau appreciates the State's continued support of the farmland protection grant program, which is an important tool for New York farmers. The program is essential to keeping viable farmland in agricultural production and also encourages farm investment. Preserving farmland for the next generation of farmers will help ensure agriculture has a bright future in New York State," said New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher in the release.

Through the program, state will award a combined $1,597,067 to the New York Agricultural Land Trust to work with Brutus Hill Farm in the town of Brutus and Koon Farm in the town of Fleming, according to a press release from the Cayuga County Administrator's office.

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For Brutus Hill Farm, a 175-cow dairy which operates on a 522-acre property that sits in both Brutus and the Onondaga County town of Elbridge, the Land Trust will use the funding to facilitate the acquisition of property presently leased by the farm's operators, according to the department.

At Koon Farm, dairy with 200 cows on a 176-acre property, the Land Trust will use the grant to help facilitate the transition of ownership to the seventh generation of the Koon family to operate the farm, which resides in parts of the towns of Fleming and Aurelius. 

Both pieces of property have significant percentages of prime and statewide important soils, according to the administrator's office release. In order to fulfill the grant requirements, the Land Trust will hold and monitor the conservation easements.

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