Wealthy New Yorkers driving up Hudson Valley farmland prices

Farmers struggle to secure land, housing after residents fled city

Hudson valley

Count farmers among the Hudson Valley residents being displaced by wealthy New Yorkers who fled the city during the pandemic.

Demand for properties, especially farms, has surged as people make all-cash offers, paying above asking price for land and squeezing out local farmers, the New York Times reported.
The median listing price for farms, ranches and undeveloped land in Columbia County jumped by 62 percent from January 2020 to January 2022, the Times reported, citing Realtor.com.

Rents have also shot up, leaving farmhands and new farmers without housing. A one-bedroom rental unit in the riverside village of Coxsackie garnered more than 260 inquiries and 130 applications, according to real estate agent Tracy Boomhower.

Home prices in the bucolic vacation area, generally within a few hours of New York, surged during the pandemic, putting affordable housing out of reach for all but the affluent. Now, farmers are also feeling the pinch.

One example: Livestock farmers Maddie Morley and Benjamin Roberts were making a profit selling pasture-raised meats in the college town of New Paltz. When their lease expired and they sought a permanent home for their business, the market was flush with urbanites, Morley said.

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

Another issue is the gulf between how well-heeled New Yorkers think about a farm and the experienced agricultural workers who need to lease the land. The image of a quiet, manicured pasture with a few goats dotting the landscape doesn’t mesh with the reality of rotational grazing practices and processing animals, farmers say.

“It’s hard to make money raising goats,” Morley said.

Many landowners suggested a one-year trial lease, but anything less than five years makes it hard for farmers to justify investing in animals and property and doesn’t give enough time to cultivate a customer base. One owner suggested using a barn for both housing animals and for wedding receptions, Morley added.

[NYT] – Rachel Herzog