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Brief Overview

An agricultural district in New York is defined as a geographic area which consists predominantly of viable agricultural land. The purpose of agricultural districts is to offer landowner’s benefits and protections to promote the continuation of farming and the preservation of agricultural land. The benefits that are offered by agricultural districts help to keep and maintain farming as a viable economic activity in the state of New York. As a result, land in active agricultural use is maintained. The Agricultural Districts Law encourages all state agencies to maintain the viability of farming within agricultural districts. The Agricultural Districts Law was created to help protect one the New York State’s most important environmental and economic natural resources, which is farmland.


  • The obligation of State agencies to encourage the maintenance of viable farming in agricultural districts;
  • Limitations on the exercise of eminent domain;
  • Limitations on the siting of solid waste management facilities on land dedicated to agricultural production;
  • Local governments are required to avoid unreasonable restrictions in the regulation of farm operations when exercising their powers to enact and administer comprehensive plans, local laws, ordinances, rules and/or regulations;
  • Agricultural Land owners may be eligible for an agricultural property tax assessment and/or agricultural property tax exemption provided they comply with certain requirements of NYS Agriculture & Markets Law;
  • Agricultural Land owners are protected from private nuisance lawsuits so long as they are adhering to sound agricultural practices as determined by NYS Agriculture & Markets and by requiring the disclosure to prospective buyers of real property that the property is in an or adjacent to an agricultural district

Read more information on the benefits and protections that New York State Agricultural Districts provide on the NY's Agriculture & Markets website.

Process for the Annual Inclusion of Agricultural District Lands

Each county legislative body designates an annual thirty-day period during which qualified landowners may submit a request to be considered for inclusion to an existing agricultural district. For Cattaraugus County, the annual thirty-day period will be held January 2nd through January 31st for the year 2024. The requests from landowners to join an agricultural district are referred to the county Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board, as well as, a public notice and hearing. After referring the requests, the county legislative body determines whether the proposed inclusion of agricultural land should be accepted into an Agricultural District, or rejected. The county legislative body has no longer than one hundred twenty days from the close of the annual thirty-day period to accept or reject the requests for inclusion into an existing agricultural district.


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.

Ag District Map

View the latest Composite Agricultural Districts Map

Landowner Request for Inclusion Form

Seeking inclusion into an agricultural district?

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 paper form, contact planning, or call 716-938-2387.