Town Board backs effort to preserve dairy farm
Town Board members are supporting Scenic Hudson’s efforts to preserve the town’s last active dairy farm.
At a board meeting Thursday, Jan. 10, Scenic Hudson Land Manager Michael Knutson said the environmental organization is seeking a state Agriculture and Markets grant of up to $841,000 toward the purchase of property development rights for the 97-acre Scholldorf Farm off Rhinecliff Road.
“This is a really unique funding opportunity for dairy operations,” Knutson said. “It’s been issued in response to the continuing financial crisis that’s been affecting dairy farmers.”
According to Scenic Hudson, Dutchess County had 126 dairy farms in 1987 and was down to only 35 by 2012.
“The Scholldorf Farm endures as the last dairy farm in Rhinebeck amidst the overall decline ... due specifically to the perseverance of Bernard Scholldorf and his commitment to operating a debt-free dairy even in the face of ever-challenging agribusiness and dairy farm dynamics felt locally and nationally,” Scenic Hudson said.
The group says Scholldorf has been approached by real estate agents but has declined offers to sell the property.
“He is now approaching retirement age and has agreed ... to conserve his farm so that it will remain in productive agricultural use once he’s unable to continue farming,” Scenic Hudson said. “Bernard has a young relative that is interested in agriculture that he may be bringing on in the near future to mentor as a next generation farm(er).”
According to the grant application, the grant would cover 75 percent of the cost of the conservation easement, with remaining 25 percent shared evenly between Scenic Hudson and Dutchess County.
Town Supervisor Elizabeth Spinzia, in a letter to state officials, said keeping the property from being used for other types of development would help the town keep its rural character in an area that has the potential for commercial development.
“It is prominently located ... less than half a mile from the village center and protection
of the property figures prominently in the town’s 2009 comprehensive plan,” she wrote. “Grant funding to purchase development rights on the farm would help to ensure permanent protection of this iconic property, with a land trust firmly committed to conserving our region’s important agricultural resources.”