Keep Farmland for Farmers
By LINDSEY LUSHER SHUTE and BENJAMIN SHUTE
CLERMONT, N.Y. — WHEN we went looking in upstate New York for a home for our farm, we feared competition from deep-pocketed developers, a new subdivision or a big-box store. These turned out to be the least of our problems.
Though the farms best suited for our vegetables were protected from development by conservation easements, we discovered that we couldn’t compete, because conserved farmland is open to all buyers — millionaires included.
Easements are intended to protect farmland, water, animal habitat, historic sites and scenic views, and so they are successful in keeping farms from becoming malls and subdivisions. But they don’t stop Wall Street bankers from turning them into private getaways, with price tags to match.