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Agricultural District

Photo of a rustic barn and farm field in Schenectady County with an orange and pink sunset.

New York State's Agricultural District Law (Article 25AA of the Agriculture and Markets Law) authorizes the creation of county agricultural districts. Agricultural districts are legally recognized geographical areas, predominantly comprised of viable agricultural lands, conforming to tax parcel boundaries. The purpose of the agricultural district program is to encourage the continued use of farmland for agricultural production by creating an economic and regulatory climate supportive of farming.

Districts must be approved by the county legislative body and the NYS Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets.

Schenectady County Agricultural District Map

The Schenectady County Agricultural District is currently comprised of 20,071 acres or nearly 15 percent of the County’s total land area.

Download Map

Preserving Farmland & Viable Agricultural Land

Photo of corn field at sunrise.

The agricultural district 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 Include:

  • Preferential real property tax treatment (agricultural assessment and special benefit assessment)
  • Protections against overly restrictive local laws, government funded acquisition or construction projects, private nuisance suits involving agricultural practices

While the law does not provide complete protection for farming and farmers, it is an important mechanism to support agriculture and maintain farmland.

New York State Agricultural District Summary

Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board

The principal responsibility of the County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board (AFPB) is to review landowner applications for inclusion in the County’s Agricultural District during the annual 30-day review period. The AFPB also prepares a report for the County Legislature for the eight-year review of the District concerning in part the status of farming within the District, the extent to which local comprehensive plans and zoning laws are consistent with and support the District, and a recommendation to continue or modify District boundaries.

Agricultural District Annual Review & Application Process

Under NYS Agricultural and Markets Law (Article 25-AA) the County Legislature is required to establish an annual 30-day review period to allow landowners to request inclusion in the Agricultural District.

The Schenectady County Legislature has established December 1st through December 30th as the annual application period. Landowners interested in adding property to the Agricultural District must complete a review worksheet and submit it to the Schenectady County Department of Economic Development and Planning at the address below during this review period.

Complete and submit the Application by December 30, 2023.

Apply by Mail:

Complete and print the application. Mail to Schenectady County Department of Economic Development and Planning ATTN: Stephen Feeney 107 Nott Terrance, Suite 303, Schenectady, NY 12308

Apply Online: Complete and submit the form via email to steve.feeney@schenectadycountyny.gov

Download Application

Agricultural District Eight-Year Review

The Schenectady County Agricultural District was created in 1988 and must be reviewed and recertified by the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets every eight years. The eight-year review process presents an opportunity to analyze the County’s agricultural base and offers the County Legislature the opportunity to alter the boundaries of the district in recognition of changing land uses. The primary goal of the review is to ensure that the agricultural district consists predominantly of viable agricultural land.

The County Legislature recently completed the 2019 eight-year review with assistance from the County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board (AFPB)

Read Full Report