Department of Environmental Conservation

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Farms and Agriculture

Agriculture is one of the most important industries in New York State, contributing tremendously to our economy. Farms, orchards and vineyards are also an important part of our environment. They provide vast expanses of open space, contain important sources of water, and are home to a variety of wildlife habitats. DEC offers these web pages to:

  • Provide information about funding assistance and programs that make agriculture more energy efficient, less polluting and more sustainable.
  • Help small and large farms and other agricultural businesses comply with the environmental laws that protect the people, wildlife, land, water and air of New York State.
A herd of cows in the pasture with farm house, barn and silos in the background
Dairy farms contribute substantially to
New York State's agricultural success.

Assistance Programs for Agriculture

Improving energy efficiency, developing farm-based renewable energy, and using practices that are more environmentally sustainable can help your farm, orchard or vineyard cut its operating costs and reduce pollution. For example, programs that help you make electricity from biogas, save energy dollars and reduce air pollution. This increases your energy independence and holds out the possibility of developing new ways to profit from dairy and food processing businesses.

State and federal agencies and Cornell University offer information, program options and financial incentives to help agriculture move toward a sustainable economic and environmental future.

Please note: All of the following links leave DEC's website.

  • New York State Energy Research and Development Authority's (NYSERDA) Agriculture page - information on NYSERDA's Agriculture Energy Efficiency Program, including technical support, financial incentives and funding opportunities for existing facilities, new construction, solar and wind power systems.
  • NYSERDA's Agricultural Food Waste Management page - information on the assistance available from NYSERDA for manure management and biogas production.
  • Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) - information on USDA grants for farmers who want to test new ideas with field trials, farm demonstrations, marketing programs or other techniques. SARE grants are also available to farm service providers, communities and other organizations participating in agricultural sustainability efforts.
  • USEPA's AgSTAR Program - information on reducing methane emissions from livestock waste by recovering and burning biogas. Use the "tools" tab on the AgSTAR website to access funding opportunities.
  • Cornell Dairy Environmental Systems Program - Dairy farmers and their advisors will find information and program tools to help them reduce the impact of dairy farming on the environment. Renewable energy (manure-based anaerobic digestion to produce biogas) is a key focus, including information on available funding opportunities.
  • Cornell Waste Management Institute (CWMI) - information on composting a broad range of organic waste, including manure, yard waste and food waste.

Regulatory Programs for Agriculture

Farms, orchards and vineyards are businesses that use significant quantities of fuel, fertilizer and pesticides. Sometimes, agricultural lands are located over desirable deposits of gas, oil and minerals. For these and many other reasons, small and large agricultural businesses are subject to laws designed to enhance both their environmental and economic value. Find information on environmental laws and regulatory programs for owners and operators of small and large agricultural businesses in the links below.

More about Farms and Agriculture:

  • Water Management for Agriculture - information about managing wastewater from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) on livestock and poultry farms, withdrawing water for irrigation, and managing stormwater at construction sites on agricultural lands.
  • Air Quality Compliance for Agriculture - information on whether your agricultural business requires an air emissions permit. You will also find information on the laws that cover emissions from farm equipment, outdoor wood boilers, open burning of debris, dust from feed and grain milling, and CO2 from manure.
  • Pesticide Management for Agriculture - information about the sale, purchase, use, possession and disposal of agricultural pesticides, and recycling of pesticide containers.
  • Land and Forest Management for Agriculture - information about applying organic waste to fields, managing forests on agricultural lands, and restoring mined agricultural lands.
  • Waste Management for Agriculture - information on the composting of agricultural waste and managing used oil and hazardous waste on the farm.
  • Whey Management for Agriculture - Information about how whey is managed in NYS.
  • Bulk Storage of Petroleum and Chemicals for Agriculture - information on the storage of petroleum and hazardous chemicals in underground and aboveground storage tanks at agricultural facilities and farms.