A new protection fund for farmland and agriculture is being created following the approval of a measure by Gov. Kathy Hochul, state lawmakers on Tuesday announced. 

The fund is meant to provide protection for viable farmland in New York as the state also seeks to expand the development of solar projects in order to make the transition to renewable forms of energy. 

The law will require all penalties collected for solar siting on viable agriculture land to be deposited into the new fund, which will be used for protection programs. 

“With the Climate Crisis changing the face of agriculture as we know it and rendering top food producing states, like California, unequipped to respond, New York must act now to protect local farmland and ensure a stable food supply for our region,” said state Sen. Michelle Hinchey. 

Under current law, solar energy projects that receive funding through the state's incentive program that site projects on active farmland must pay a penalty, but the proceeds go into the state's general fund. 

Hinchey, along with state Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, pointed to the fund's creation as a way of striking a balance of preservation and development of renewable forms of energy. 

“Given the global climate crisis and the urgent need for renewable energy projects, agricultural land has become an attractive option for solar development," Lupardo said. "To protect our food supply, farmland protection must remain a priority in New York's path of reaching aggressive climate goals. The Agricultural and Farmland Viability Protection Fund is an important first step in ensuring that these two priorities work hand in hand."