Batzing Family Protects York Farmland

Batzing Family Protects York Farmland

iApril 24, 2020

Two conservation easements placed on Batzing Farms in York will prevent the subdivision and development of over 600 acres of important lands in the Genesee Valley forever.

Parents Monica and Scott Batzing and their daughter Sarah Batzing worked with Genesee Valley Conservancy to ensure this land remains forever agricultural.  No longer will development threaten these highly productive soils, the rural scenic views, and the habitat found on the property.

Hit the Road Jack

When considering how long a farm has been in operation, you can look at its founding date; however, you can also look at the road name where the farm is located.  If the road is named after the farm, you can bet the farm is a multi-generational operation.

Batzing Farms, located on Batzing Road, is one of these farms.  Started in 1915 by Sarah’s great-great-grandfather, it has been in continuous operation by the Batzing family for over 105 years!

Got Milk?

This fifth-generation dairy farm has been in continuous operation by the Batzing family since it was founded by Charles Batzing in 1915.  The farm currently has 100 milking cows, raises all of their replacement cows and has maintained a ‘super-milk’ designation for outstanding milk quality from Empire State Milk Quality Council for the past 15 years.

The farm has also received awards from the Dairy Herd Improvement Association and the worldwide bovine genetic specialists American Breeders Service for their excellence.

With over 56% USDA Prime soils, the farm has highly productive ground that is some of the best in New York State.  Through the past century, the farm has grown dairy forages, cash crops including potatoes, sweet corn, peas, cabbage, and small grains on the extremely fertile and productive land to supplement the dairy enterprise. 

Due to the exceptional soil quality and high crop yields, the farm is able to rent some of their ground to other local farmers, diversifying their income and supporting others needing access to land.  Additionally, the farm boards 200 heifers for a nearby dairy and provides custom large bale harvesting of hay and straw for neighboring farms. 

Farm in Transition

Batzing Farms is currently operated jointly by father-daughter team of Scott and Sarah. 

Scott manages the farm finances and performs the field work with the help of an employee: planting, harvesting, and manure spreading.  Sarah manages the dairy herd and meets weekly with veterinarians to maintain the health of the herd.

As Scott and his wife Monica, a nurse who works full-time off the farm, approach retirement, they have worked with Sarah to create a transition plan to ensure the farm operation and land can pass from themselves to Sarah, so she can continue the Batzing family farm tradition.  Protecting the land base was an important part of their transition plan, requiring both generations to commit to the permanent protection of the farm.

Take a Hike!

The Batzing Farms conservation project creates a significant protected buffer along 2.4 miles of Genesee Valley Greenway State Park, a 90-mile multi-use trail extending from Monroe County to Cattaraugus County.  Protecting Batzing Farms farm ensures users of this park in York will continue to see and enjoy rural views when recreating on this trail.

This project is Genesee Valley Conservancy’s seventh conservation project directly adjacent to Genesee Valley Greenway State Park.  Buffering the park from development is part of the Conservancy’s effort to buffer protected lands and create larger blocks of protected areas.

Keeping Water Clean

Taking into consideration the potential negative impacts that farming can have on water quality, special provisions in the conservation agreements address the 1.7 miles of frontage that the farm has on the Genesee River.

A required 60ft permanent vegetative riparian buffer between the Genesee River and farm activities was included to ensure activities on the farm do not end up in the waterway.  Sediment, phosphorous, and stream bank collapse have been of particular concern for the Genesee River.  By maintaining a forested buffer, the farm’s impact on surrounding water quality issues will be minimized.  Additionally, the established riparian buffer of mixed hard and softwood trees, shrubs and grasses provides excellent habitat for a broad variety of native wildlife along the shoreline of the Genesee River.

This project is the eleventh along the Genesee River for Genesee Valley Conservancy in its 30-year history and the fourth that includes enhanced protections requiring forested buffers along the Genesee.

Community Impact

This project is the first conservation project in the Town of York for Genesee Valley Conservancy, but is expected to be the first of many.

The Town updated its comprehensive plan to give priority to the protection and enhancement of agricultural resources and viable farming areas and will support agriculture as an industry and land use.  Conservation easements on Batzing Farms directly aligns with the desired outcome the local community has for preserving its agricultural roots while looking to the future.  

How It Happened

Around 2007, the Batzing family approached the Conservancy to learn about farmland protection and conservation options available in the Genesee Valley.  Fast forward to 2018, Batzing Farms was selected as a top priority farm for protection by the Livingston County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board after a series of public workshops on farmland protection and a competitive ranking process that considered soil quality, development pressure, and other characteristics of the farm. 

Later in 2018, Batzing Farms was the first farm selected by New York State for permanent protection through a farmland protection implementation grant aimed at assisting dairy farms in transition.  In this case, assisting the family in transitioning their farm from Monica and Scott, to their daughter Sarah.

This project was the result of a collaboration between Genesee Valley Conservancy, Livingston County Board of Supervisors, Livingston County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board, Town of York, and New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.  To-date, the collaborative effort between Genesee Valley Conservancy and local partners has resulted in over $18 million invested in protecting over 10,500 acres of some of the States most productive agricultural lands in the Genesee Valley.

In Summary

This project was supported by the Livingston County Agricultural & Farmland Protection Board and the Town of York.  Both municipalities recognize that highly productive land is a critical part of the local economy and the economic future of the region.  Genesee Valley Conservancy works throughout the Genesee River watershed to protect high quality habitat, open space and farmland for this, and future generations.  The Conservancy now oversees the protection of 21,294 acres.

Landowners in the Genesee River watershed interested in pursuing conservation options for their property, be it farmland, habitat, or a potential public nature preserve, should contact the Genesee Valley Conservancy for more information.

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Genesee Valley Conservancy is a nationally accredited non-profit conservation organization working to protect the habitat, open space and farmland in the Genesee River watershed.  Over 21,294 acres of natural habitat and productive farm and forest land have been conserved by Genesee Valley Conservancy with private landowners.  The organization also owns nature preserves open to the public year-round for recreation and education.  For more information visit www.geneseevalleyconservancy.org