Town Board backs ef­fort to pre­serve dairy farm

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Wil­liam J. Kem­ble [email protected]­manon­line.com

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.”

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