Oneida County Unveils Ag-Friendly Municipal Guide

Document Will Assist in Developing Plans & Policies

Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. today unveiled the “Agriculture-Friendly Oneida County” municipal planning guide, a document that will aid local towns in developing comprehensive plans and policies, establishing agricultural districts, receiving agricultural assessments and setting up land use regulations.

“Agriculture is the biggest industry in Oneida County and farmland protection is vital to its continued success,” Picente said. “Municipalities play a significant role in protecting agricultural land and facilitating its usage. This Ag-Friendly municipal planning guide will put our towns in the position to best utilize their assets and we will be here every step of the way to assist them.”

The purpose of the guide is to provide municipalities with:

  • A reference guide to be used in developing comprehensive plans and land use regulations, i.e. zoning regulations or amendments to those documents.
  • Information regarding current agricultural–related laws and programs — such as NYS Agricultural Districts Law, Agricultural Assessments and Farmland Protection Implementation Grants —that they can support and would encourage landowner participation.
  • A checklist of items they can use to determine if their municipality is agriculture-friendly.
  • Information on the characteristics of agriculture-friendly comprehensive plans, land use regulations, and municipal policies.
  • Information on additional steps municipalities can take on their own to further farmland protection in their municipality, such as a Right to Farm Law or Municipal Farmland Protection Plan.
  • Samples of agriculture-related definitions municipalities can use when developing and updating land use regulations.
  • A list of resources municipalities can refer to when adopting or amending comprehensive plans and land use regulations.
  • The identification of county contacts municipalities can rely on when adopting or amending comprehensive plans and land use regulations.
  • Assistance in the creation of a uniform approach in developing plans, policies and regulations for agriculture throughout the county.

“This planning guide will prove to be an essential tool for fostering agriculture in all of the municipalities in Oneida County,” said Oneida County Associations of Towns President Ben Simons. “I encourage all of our towns to obtain a copy and implement its strategies. I want to thank County Executive Picente for his proactive agricultural vision and his unwavering support of our county’s farmers.”

The ag-friendly municipal planning guide is a part of the implementation of the 2017 Oneida County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan, having been specifically identified as an action item.

Starting today, it will be distributed to all county municipalities and is also available for view and download here and at www.cceoneida.com.

The towns of Camden, Westmoreland, Paris and Trenton have had audits of their regulations for ag-friendliness done as part of the Farmland Protection Plan. Cornell Cooperative Extension Oneida County met with those municipalities to review their audits in October 2018 and a second workshop on ag-friendly regulations for all of the municipalities in the county was held earlier this year.

Oneida County Planning Department and CCE Oneida County staff will be providing further assistance to municipalities by attending their future ag-friendly meetings, helping to develop ag-friendly comprehensive plans, land use regulations and municipal farmland protection plans and reviewing and auditing them.

“We are extremely fortunate that the County Executive, Board of Legislators and other local leaders recognize the importance of agriculture in Oneida County,” said CCE Oneida County Executive Director Mary Beth McEwen. “The Ag-Friendly municipal guide is a resource for municipalities interested in creating and strengthening a farm-friendly environment for agricultural businesses. It’s vitally important that we continue to support our farmers and farm businesses. This guide will provide all of the towns in Oneida County with the information they need to create a supportive atmosphere to ensure that the future of agriculture in Oneida County remains promising.”