ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Land conservancies and other farm preservation groups are launching a growing number of programs matching landowners with farmers to keep land in agricultural production.
Census figures show the fastest growing group of farmers and ranchers is those over 65. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has set a goal of creating 100,000 new farmers within the next few years.
The American Farmland Trust says New York state has lost almost half a million acres of farmland to subdivisions, strip malls and scattered development in the past 25 years. The group has started a series of projects to address the problem.
One of the projects links landowners with fledgling farmers and helps them work out affordable sale or lease agreements.