The view of Mark and Elizabeth Perry’s bucolic farm in Cayuga County, New York continues to inspire their love for the land. The Perrys were a young couple when they purchased the original 190-acre home farm, thoughtfully growing and managing their farm operation for the past 46 years. Now in their late 80’s, the Perrys are taking that same thoughtful approach to plan for the future of their farm.
Without an heir interested in continuing their operation, the Perrys were excited to learn about the Purchase of Development Rights program at a workshop put on by Cayuga County. They felt it was a perfect fit for their goal to safeguard the agricultural productivity of their land.
The Purchase of Development Rights program utilizes a tool called a conservation easement. A conservation easement is a voluntary agreement between a landowner and the land trust restricting future residential and commercial development of the property in perpetuity. This arrangement allows the Perrys to continue to own, farm and manage their property, but ensures that the land will forever be open and available for agriculture. In short, protecting their farm with a conservation easement became the central component of the family’s succession plan.
Mark Perry states that “We have seen farmland being developed with houses in our area. It is our experience that it makes it more difficult to operate the farm when there is more development. We have to be more careful when operating near houses: with dust, spraying, noise and odors. We dislike urban sprawl and would like to see our rural area remain as such.”
Originally a dairy farm, the Perrys have adapted to changing markets and conditions. Powered in part by an on-farm wind turbine, the Perry’s grow cash crops on their high quality soils and raise a small herd of beef cattle. The farm’s location just west of the City of Auburn and near the New York State Thruway, offers the Perrys access to regional and national markets. This strategic location and an abundance of prime soils contributes to Cayuga County’s rank as the second most successful in the state for the market value of its agricultural commodities.
Across New York our farmers are growing older and programs that help keep the land open will continue to play an important role in the future of our agricultural economy. The protection of the Perry Farm, combined with over 4,000 acres of farmland NYALT has helped conserve in cooperation with Cayuga County, ensures that land will remain productive for future generations.
“The forethought of the Perrys will eventually help facilitate the transfer of this land to another farmer. We are truly grateful to work and live in an area where agriculture plays such an important role in the community” expressed Nancy Hourigan, NYALT Board Chair.