NYS Agricultural District Program
The State Legislature enacted the New York Agricultural Districts law, Article 25-AA of the Agriculture & Markets Law PDF, in 1971 to protect and promote the availability of land for farming purposes. Subsequent amendments have broadened its scope and protections for farmer.
The purpose of agricultural districting is to encourage and promote the continued use of farmland for agricultural production. The Program is based on a combination of landowner incentives and protections, all of which are designed to forestall the conversion of farmland to non-agricultural uses. Benefits that properties in State-certified Agricultural Districts receive are partial real property tax relief (agricultural assessment and special benefit assessments), and protections against overly restrictive local laws, government funded acquisition or construction projects, and private nuisance suits involving agricultural practices.
The law provides for a locally initiated mechanism at the county level in the creation, modification and approval of Agricultural Districts. Accordingly, counties manage the preliminary stages of creation or modification of an Agricultural District. Thereafter, the Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets certifies that a district meets the purpose and intent of the Agricultural District Law after the county submits a resolution approving or modifying a district.
For additional general information on the Agricultural Districts Program, go to Agricultural Districts Law Summary and New York's Agricultural Districts Frequently Asked Questions.
NYS Agricultural Property Tax Exemption Program
Inclusion in an NYS Agricultural District and obtaining an agricultural property tax exemption from the local assessor are easily confused. A landowner must still file an application with the local assessor for an agricultural exemption whether or not a parcel is in a certified Agricultural District. For information about the agricultural property tax exemption program click here or contact your local assessor who is responsible for this program.
How do I find out if a parcel of land is in a NYS certified Agricultural District?
1. Check the parcel lists included in the Agricultural District report. You will need to have the tax map number of the parcel. Note: Tax map numbers change when subdivisions take place. It is possible that you may not find your parcel number in the list if it changed since the report was prepared. Check the OnCOR map to make sure.
2. Check Ontario County’s Online Resources (OnCOR) . You can search for specific parcel information regarding inclusion in an agricultural district with either the tax map number of the parcel, property address or by finding it on the digital map. Link to OnCOR
Once you located your parcel:
- Under Layers, make sure "Operational Layers" is checked "on"
- Select (check "on") "Environmental Info and then select "Agricultural Districts". Parcels in the District are shaded.
You can also create a "Parcel Report" which will include information regarding inclusion in a district.
My land is in an Agricultural Zoning District in my town. Is that the same as being in a certified Agricultural Zoning District?
This is an excellent question. The NYS Agricultural District program is frequently confused with local zoning districts which are created by towns, villages, or cities. Municipalities regulate how land is used through creation of zoning regulations that are applied to different areas of the locality. These areas are “zoning districts” and are mapped according to local law.
Many localities, particularly in rural areas, name zoning districts, Agricultural – 1 or 2. (A-1, or A-2) and will appear that way on the map. For more information on your zoning laws contact your Municipality .
There is no relationship between a parcel being included in a zoning district or in a NYS-certified Agricultural District unless the local zoning law specifically states that all parcels in a NYS certified Agricultural District are included in a particular zoning district.
Landowners must request that their land be included or removed from a NYS certified district, whereas, inclusion in a zoning district is done by local elected board action.
How do I add are remove my land from a NYS-Certified Agricultural District?
- Annual Agricultural District Enrollment Period - November 1-30. Landowners can request that their land be added to an Agricultural District during Ontario County’s annual enrollment period. Land cannot be removed during this period. For more information go to: Annual Enrollment
- Eight-Year Agricultural District Review Process. Each Agricultural District must be recertified by New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets on an eight year cycle. During this period, landowners can request their land be added or removed from an Agricultural District.
- Notice of the review process is provided by legal notice. Ontario County also sends individual notices to all landowners in the District whose land is currently in the District or appears to be in agricultural use by a review of aerial photos or agricultural tax exemption records.
- For more information on the NYS Review process go to: NYS Agriculture and Markets Law Section 303-a. NYS Agricultural District Law
- NOTE: Land can only be removed from the Agricultural District during the eight year review program.