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Agriculture on Private Lands

The Watershed Agricultural Program is a partnership between New York City and the watershed farming community that reduces agricultural pollution. The Watershed Agricultural Program has been funded by the City since 1992 with additional matching funds provided through federal, State and private sources. The Program is administered locally by the not-for-profit Watershed Agricultural Council (WAC) through a contract with DEP.

The purpose of the Watershed Agricultural Program is to assist farmers in both the Catskill/Delaware and Croton Watersheds with the development and implementation of voluntary pollution prevention plans (Whole Farm Plans). Each Whole Farm Plan is developed by an interdisciplinary team of professionals—including the farmer—based on a comprehensive environmental review of the farm’s current and potential pollution problems.

Whole Farm Plans recommend a suite of Best Management Practices (BMPs) that are designed to address each farm’s environmental and operational conditions and thereby protect water quality from specific agricultural pollutants such as pathogens, nutrients, and sediment. Since 1992, the Watershed Agricultural Program has developed approximately 400 Whole Farm Plans and implemented more than 5,000 BMPs on commercial large farms and small farms in the Catskill/Delaware and Croton Watersheds.

The Watershed Agricultural Program also supports a Farmer Education Program and a “Pure Catskills” Buy Local Campaign. The Farmer Education Program teaches program participants about the operation and maintenance of their Whole Farm Plans and strives to increase their knowledge and understanding regarding animal health, nutrient management, and other agricultural topics through workshops, seminars, farm tours, pasture walks, and on-line instructional courses. “Pure Catskills” is the primary economic initiative of the Watershed Agricultural Program that strives to increase support of the local food system through events, promotional grants, farm product directories, and farm-to-market projects.

For additional information about the Watershed Agricultural Program, please contact the WAC at 607-865-7790 or visit

For specific information about the “Pure Catskills” Buy Local Campaign, please visit

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