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New York State Agriculture Commissioner Announces Applications Being Accepted for 2024 AEM-Leopold Conservation Award
New York Ag Connection - 02/09/2024

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today announced applications are being accepted for New York State’s fifth annual Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) Leopold Conservation Award. Presented in partnership with Sand County Foundation, the award honors a farm and its nominating Soil and Water Conservation District for extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation. In New York, the $10,000 award is presented in partnership with national sponsor American Farmland Trust, and state partner Cornell Cooperative Extension.

Commissioner Ball said, “Many of our New York farming families have long been dedicated to best practices that protect our natural resources and conserve our environment, both on their farms and in their communities. I encourage eligible farms to work with their local Soil and Water Conservation District to apply for the AEM-Leopold Conservation award so their efforts can be recognized and celebrated.”

Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the award recognizes farmers who inspire others with their dedication to land, water, and wildlife habitat management on private, working land. In his influential 1949 book, “A Sand County Almanac,” Leopold called for an ethical relationship between people and the land they own and manage.

Sand County Foundation presents the Leopold Conservation Award to farmers in 27 states. In New York, the longstanding AEM Award joined with the Leopold Conservation Award program in 2020, most recently awarding Dygert Farms and the Montgomery County Soil and Water Conservation District in 2023.

Applications for the New York AEM-Leopold Conservation Award are now being accepted, with county Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) applying on behalf of farms. Eligible candidates successfully incorporate AEM best management practices into the management of their farm, assisting the farmer in meeting business and environmental goals. Applicants should demonstrate conservation leadership and outreach in the agricultural sector and be an inspiration to other farmers. Applications must be received by May 15, 2024.

New York State AEM Award

New York State’s annual Agricultural Environmental Management Award winners are chosen from nominees submitted by county SWCDs from around the state. The first Agricultural Environmental Management Award was presented in 2002; prior to that, the award was known as the Agricultural Stewardship Award.

New York State’s AEM framework is a model for the nation as a voluntary, incentive-based approach to protect natural resources and meet the economic needs of the agricultural community.

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