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Dygert Farms of Montgomery County Selected for New York AEM-Leopold Conservation Award

Ahead of Climate Week, 300-Year Farm Honored with New York’s Highest Agricultural Environmental Award

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today joined the Sand County Foundation to announce that Dygert Farms of Palatine Bridge has been selected for the 2023 New York Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM)-Leopold Conservation Award. The distinguished award honors a farm and its nominating Soil and Water Conservation District for their efforts to protect the environment through the preservation of soil and water quality. Commissioner Ball and partners from the Sand County Foundation visited Dygert Farms today, ahead of the start of Climate Week 2023, to present the award during the Dygert family’s celebration of the farm’s tricentennial anniversary this year.

Owned and operated by Robby and Shannon Dygert, Dygert Farms is a 270-cow dairy farm and dairy processing operation, which crops to feed its cows on 650 acres in Montgomery County. The family also operates Dygert Farms Creamery. Rich in history, the farm is celebrating its tricentennial anniversary in 2023. Through collaboration with the Montgomery County Soil and Water Conservation District, the farm’s planner, and the State’s AEM Program, the Dygerts have adopted many conservation practices to cycle on-farm nutrients for crop production, continually build soil health, and protect water quality while helping to ensure farm viability for future generations

Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the Leopold Conservation Award (LCA) recognizes farmers, ranchers and forestland owners who inspire others with their dedication to land, water, and wildlife habitat management on working land. The award is presented to landowners in 27 states. New York’s longstanding Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) Award joined with the nationally recognized Leopold Conservation Award program in 2020.

Earlier this year, New York State Soil and Water Conservation Districts were encouraged to identify and nominate the best examples of conservation success in their district. Applications were reviewed and in addition to Dygert Farms, two other farms were recognized for their stewardship and leadership: Humbert Farms of Rose in Wayne County and Tongore Farm of Olivebridge in Ulster County.

Commissioner Ball said, “The AEM-Leopold Conservation Award honors the best of the best in conservation and progressive farming. On behalf of the Department and New York State, I’d like to congratulate Dygert Farms on receiving this esteemed award today. Time and again, they have demonstrated their innovative environmental practices, leadership, and dedication to giving back to their community, and I’m proud to stand alongside our partners at the Sand County Foundation to honor them for their efforts, especially as they celebrate 300 years of their family farm.”  

Kevin McAleese, Sand County Foundation President and Chief Executive Officer, said, “These award finalists are examples of how Aldo Leopold’s land ethic is alive and well today. Their dedication to conservation shows how individuals can improve the health of the land while producing food and fiber.”

Robby and Shannon Dygert of Dygert Farms said, “We are truly honored to receive this prestigious award, noting the many years of continuously working with the Montgomery County Soil and Water Conservation District in utilizing the AEM Program, and thank the Sand County Foundation for their support here in New York. As we celebrate our farm’s Tri Centennial this year, receiving this award acknowledges three centuries of the Dygert Family caring for the land and constantly striving to implement best management practices that will leave the land better than how the generations before us have found it. We look forward to continuing to be proactive and progressive stewards of the land to preserve and protect our valued resources for the next generation here in the historic Mohawk Valley.”

New York State Soil and Water Conservation Committee Chair Dale Stein said, “Congratulations to the Dygert family on being honored with this distinguished award. Their work with the Montgomery County Soil and Water Conservation District has helped them to implement conservation practices including minimum/no-till planting, cover cropping, clean water diversion practices, and whole farm nutrient management. They are true examples of environmental stewardship in our New York State agricultural community.”

John Piotti, American Farmland Trust President and Chief Executive Officer, said, “As the national sponsor for Sand County Foundation’s Leopold Conservation Award, American Farmland Trust celebrates the hard work and dedication of the New York recipient. At AFT we believe that conservation in agriculture requires a focus on the land, the practices, and the people and this award recognizes the integral role of all three.”

Sand County Foundation, a national nonprofit conservation organization, presents the $10,000 cash award to the Dygert Farms through the support of American Farmland Trust, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, Cornell Cooperative Extension, The Ida and Robert Gordon Family Foundation, Farm Credit East, Audubon New York, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the New York State Agribusiness Association.

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