Once the bread basket of New York City, agricultural activity in Westchester County saw a steady decline between 1983 and 1994 when nearly 4,000 acres, or 36 percent of farmland, as defined by New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Law, were lost. The environmental benefits and landscape preservation values associated with agriculture are worthy of protection. Once lost, these are not replaceable. The socio-economic vitality of agriculture in this county is essential to the economic stability and growth of many local communities and the county as a whole.

It is the policy of the county to conserve, protect and encourage the development and improvement of its agricultural land for production of food and other agricultural products. It is also the policy of the county to conserve and protect agricultural lands as valued natural and ecological resources, which provide needed open spaces for clean air and water, as well as for open space. 

Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board
In response to this loss of farmland, the Westchester County Agriculture & Farmland Protection Board (AFPB) was created in 1999 by act of the County Board of Legislature (BOL) pursuant to New York State Agriculture & Markets Law. The AFPB includes representatives from Westchester's agricultural industry, and its mission is to maintain the economic viability and the environmental and landscape preservation values associated with agriculture. 

Agriculture and Farmland Protection Plan
The Agriculture and Farmland Protection Plan, adopted in 2004 by the BOL, characterizes the agricultural industry in Westchester as consisting predominantly of commercial horse boarding and other equine related activities, although the horticulture industry is also very prosperous. Traditional fruit, vegetable and other crops follow along with Christmas tree farms. The AFPB works on implementing the recommendations included in the plan, which includes developing a public outreach program, assisting local municipalities to plan for agriculture, and supporting Westchester County’s current and future agricultural entrepreneurs.

Agricultural District

New York State Agricultural Districts help to protect and preserve land under active agricultural production or which could be used for agricultural production. New York State’s Agricultural Districts Law seeks to create economic and regulatory incentives which encourage farmers to continue farming. The Westchester County Agricultural District was created in 2001 with an eight-year review period.  In 2010, after two years of review, the BOL, upon recommendations included in a report prepared by the AFPB, modified the district by limiting the district to eight Westchester municipalities and creating criteria for farms included in the district.  The modified district was recertified by the state on Sept 19, 2011 with 70 farms comprising over 6,600 acres of land. The district was recertified in 2017 with 8,642 acres of land comprised of 113 farms.  

Agricultural Assessments

The County Soil and Water Conservation District, staffed through the County Department of Planning, prepares Soil Group Worksheets for property owners seeking to obtain agricultural assessments for their farms. Property owners must delineate the agricultural, non-agricultural and farm woodland portions of their property on an aerial map and complete an application form. The County will prepare the Soil Group Worksheet, which the property owner must submit to the local tax assessor along with their application for an agricultural assessment. 

For further information, contact David Kvinge, Assistant Commissioner, by e-mail at .