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The Office of Agriculture was created in 2020 to address the loss of farmland, improve the viability of farming, and assist rural municipalities with planning for agriculture.

The Office of Agriculture continues to work closely with the agricultural community to preserve agricultural lands and strengthen the agricultural economy through the following programs:

Development and Implementation of County Agriculture and Farmland Protection Plan

New York State provides matching grants to assist counties and towns with development of agricultural and farmland protection plans.  Those plans identify how municipalities can maintain the economic viability of their agricultural industry and the supporting land base. In 2011, Erie County was awarded a matching grant to support preparation of a new Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan. The Department, working closely with the community, the County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board, and its consultant, American Farmland Trust, recently completed the new Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan.

A number of Erie County towns have also adopted an Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan.

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Agricultural District Program

New York State Agriculture and Markets Law authorizes the creation of local agricultural districts pursuant to landowner initiative, preliminary county review, state certification, and county adoption.  Agricultural districts encourage the continued use of farmland for agricultural production based on a combination of landowner incentives and protections, all of which are designed to forestall the conversion of farmland to non-agricultural uses.

The Department of Environment and Planning manages all aspects of district creation, review and recertification, working closely with the County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board and the County Legislature. Erie County’s 14 agricultural districts, shown on this map, cover 433 farms and 261,241 acres, 39 percent of the County’s land area. You can also use Erie County’s Online Mapping System or the Agricultural and Farmland Protection Inventory to view agricultural districts by parcel.

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Erie County Business Task Force - Agriculture and Food System Subcommittee

The Erie County Business Task Force has been formed to provide immediate and targeted business assistance to local businesses struggling to respond to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. With representatives from a broad swath of local businesses, governmental agencies, and community organizations, the Task Force will begin by collecting data from businesses to form a better picture of how the coronavirus has impacted their operations and what actions might be needed. Information gathered will assist in developing short- and long-term policy and procedural recommendations at the local, state and federal levels and will help to identify the workforce needs that businesses will have in order to succeed in the present and future COVID-19 economy.

Three subcommittees have been formed with the objectives of:

  • Focusing discussions on Industry Sector trends, practices, and COVID-related issues
  • Identifying workforce needs and develop policy recommendations that County can implement to help businesses be more resilient going forward.
  • Providing immediate and targeted business assistance.
  • Recommending short- and long-term policy and procedure at the local, State and Federal levels
  • Identifying the workforce businesses need to succeed in a present and post COVID-19 economy

The Agriculture and Food System Subcommittee (AFSSC) has been created to focus on the local supply chain that broke down early in the COVID-19 pandemic, how to address these systemic issues, and will identify what actions can be taken to ensure the continued strength of our agriculture sectors. The AFSSC will coordinate with other subcommittees as necessary.

The AFSSC includes diverse and equitable representation from the agriculture and food systems spectrum including: farmers/growers, processors, distribution and logistics, retail, co-operative markets, CSAs, consumers, restaurant/food service, and food waste.

Resources for AFSSC Members

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Coordination of local planning and land use decision-making with the Agricultural Districts program

According to New York State Agriculture and Markets Law, when an applicant applies for a rezoning, special use permit, site plan approval, use variance, or subdivision of parcels within 500 feet of a farm operation in an agricultural district, the applicant is required to fill out an Agricultural Data Statement. The municipal board must evaluate and consider the agricultural data statement in its review of the possible impacts of the proposed project upon the functioning of farm operations within such agricultural district.

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Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board

New York State Agriculture and Markets Law empowers counties to create Agricultural and Farmland Protection Boards with a broad-based membership to bring together farmers and government officials, bring broader community goals to oversight of agricultural districts, bring appreciation of agriculture’s needs back to the broader community, and build bridges and bring together diverse perspectives.

Agricultural and Farmland Protection Boards may recommend creation and renewal of agricultural districts, comment on “notices of intent” to undertake development projects in agricultural districts, and guide, assess and approve Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plans.

For more information on Erie County’s Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board please contact the Department of Environment and Planning.

The New York State Guide for Harvest Times and Produce Availability can help you to buy foods that are in season and grown locally!

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Online Agriculture Maps

Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Mapping (ESRI Story Map)

The Agricultural and Farmland Protection (AFP) Mapping Application provides an interactive view of maps contained in Erie County’s Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan. It provides the basis for land use planning and conser vation of valuable agricultural lands. The AFP provides descriptions and map viewers of agricultural and farmland protection data in Erie County including soil ratings, natural resource ratings, agricultural districts, and more!

Erie County Agritourism Map (My Maps, Google)

This map, produced by the Erie County Soil and Water Conservation District, shows local farmers markets, roadside markets, and u-pick farms to help residents and visitors alike find locally sourced fresh food to enjoy.
The map is also available as a PDF here

For other Erie County maps, visit the Erie County Online Mapping System


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Erie Grown

Erie Grown promotes locally grown and in-season produce as well as maple, honey, and agritourism activities. We hope to better connect consumers to farmers, farmers markets, and local foods by linking available goods with those would like to buy them.

Are you a grower? Enroll here!


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COVID-19 Resources

Buffalo and Erie County Food Policy Council COVID-19 Resources

Erie Grown

Cornell Cooperative Extension - NY Extension Disaster Education Network

American Farmland Trust

Farmer Relief Fund


Local Harvest - CSA Search

New York Farm Bureau COVID-19 Updates

Erie Grown Farm Locator

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Last updated: July 28, 2020 7:35am