Agriculture and Markets Law Section 303-b was enacted in 2003 to provide for the designation of an annual 30-day period during which landowners may submit requests for the inclusion of predominately viable agricultural land into an existing certified agricultural district. Cattaraugus County has designated January 2 through January 31, 2019 as this 30-day period.
Landowners seeking inclusion into a certified agricultural district must submit a "Landowner Request for Inclusion" form to the Cattaraugus County Department of Economic Development, Planning and Tourism by the January 31st deadline. To request a form, contact Paul R. Bishop, Senior Planner, at 716-938-2369 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The form may also be downloaded at Agricultural Development Services.
The Agricultural Districts Law was created in 1971 to encourage 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 include protections against overly restrictive local laws, government funded acquisition or construction projects, and private nuisance suits involving agricultural practices.
Another benefit offered to landowners who qualify is preferential real property tax treatment (agricultural assessment and special benefit assessment). Basic eligibility requirements for this particular benefit include (1) parcels of seven or more acres that were used in the preceding two years for the production for sale of crops, livestock, or livestock products and (2) had annual gross sales of those products averaging $10,000 or more. Parcels smaller than seven acres may qualify if gross sales are $50,000 or more. As of January 1, 2016, 210 agricultural districts existed statewide, containing 25,632 farms and 8.8 million acres (about 30% of the State's total land area).
Cattaraugus County has over 239,500 acres in their agricultural district.