CAPITAL REGION — Figures released Wednesday show that six counties in the Capital Region shed more than 58,000 acres of farmland and lost 104 farms between 2002 and 2007.
Results in the USDA’s 2007 Census of Agriculture show Schoharie County experienced the biggest loss in farms while Montgomery County lost the greatest amount of acreage in the five-year period.
Saratoga County, however, stands alone in the region, with increases both in the number of farms and acreage.
Albany County increased the number of farms but experienced an overall loss in total farmland.
The census reports that Montgomery County had 624 farms in 2002 and lost 20 in the five-year period ending in 2007 — but some officials in Montgomery County on Wednesday said they don’t believe there’s been such a widespread loss of farmland.
In terms of land, the agricultural census shows Montgomery County lost 27,421 acres, leaving the total 2007 acreage at 124,556.
Schoharie County lost a total of 54 farms and 17,245 acres of farmland during the period, representing a 9 percent loss in farms and 15 percent loss of farming acreage, according to the census.
“It’s been a long-term trend. I’m saddened,” Schoharie County Planning Director Alicia Terry said Wednesday.
Farming is considered the primary industry in Schoharie County and Terry said efforts to preserve farmland at the local level can only do so much.
Schoharie County has a countywide farmland protection plan and it was the first county in New York state to develop agricultural districts.
Limitations on eminent domain in agricultural areas are a two sided coin. On the one hand, protection of the resource is maintained. However, one has to wonder whether this takes away the private ownership rights of the individual owner, who may be limited in utilization of the property for other than agricultural use.