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Posted: June 8 2011

Town of Cato Adopts Plan for Agriculture and Farmland Protection
Town demonstrates its commitment to enhancing its agricultural economy and protecting farmland by adopting new, forward-thinking plan and its 13 strategies  

(Cato, NY) – Tonight the Town of Cato will adopt a plan that provides 13 strategic actions that the Town intends to take to enhance its agricultural economy and protect the farmland base that sustains it.
“The Town of Cato presently enjoys an economy pretty much based on the agricultural endeavors of its citizens,” said Lou House, Chairman of the Town of Cato’s Agricultural Planning Committee.  “For the last two years a small group of us have been looking at what agriculture means to the area and what can be done to protect the pristine landscape that the majority of the people would like to see maintained.”
Beginning in November of 2009, the 5 member committee began thinking about what role the Town could play in making Cato a better place to farm, operate farm businesses and, thus, maintain the rural character that these important working landscapes provide.  The committee developed a 5 point public participation program and reached out to every landowner in the Town with postcards inviting them to participate.  With the help of the Cayuga County Department of Planning and Economic Development, the Town developed an agricultural protection website and conducted interviews with farmers and non-farmers alike.
“The results of these efforts seem to be a consensus,” said Town Supervisor Charles Ray, “present cropland should be protected and growth in our community should be channeled to less viable agricultural areas.”
Based on the interviews that were conducted and a thorough analysis of agriculture in the Town of Cato, the Plan provides 13 strategies for protecting farmland and enhancing the agricultural economy.  Strategies include the adoption of a local Right-to-Farm Law, participation in Cayuga County’s Farmland Protection Program and the modification of the Town’s zoning and subdivision regulations to make them more farm-friendly.
“The Town of Cato should be proud of the work that they have done to protect farmland in this part of the County.  Ultimately, a strong agricultural economy is the result of the hard work of farmers – not the result of any plan.  But the Town can identify ways that it can support farmers and in doing so help keep Cato’s agricultural sector vibrant and its land productive as farms.  That’s what this plan is all about.” said Geoff Milz, a planner with the Cayuga County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

 “Nothing happens over night and this look at agriculture in the Town will hopefully raise the awareness of residents in the area that we have a great place to live but have to plan the future to keep it this way,” committee secretary Cindy Stephenson concluded, “We hope this report will spark interest, involve more people, and give some guidance to the Town Board and community to protect what we have.” 

For more information about the Town of Cato’s Plan for Agriculture and Farmland Protection, please visit http://co.cayuga.ny.us/townofcato/agplan.

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