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Bill would let county buy rights to farm

More than 140 acres of farmland in Eastport could be preserved under a bill introduced by Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy.

The legislation is to purchase for $1.7 million the development rights to the active farmland operated by the Ringhoff Farm, which runs a produce stand at the corner of Moriches-Riverhead Road and Eastport-Manor Road.

“The purchase of development rights to the Ringhoff Farm will preserve yet another historic Suffolk County farm from future development,” Levy said in a news release. “Protection of our farmland is critical to protecting the agricultural economy that is vital to Suffolk’s East End.”

The bill will go before the legislature’s Environment, Planning and Agriculture committee on Monday Oct. 3 and may reach the full legislature for a vote on Oct. 11.

“Joining the farmland development rights program at this time will enable the family to purchase much needed upgrades and additions to our farm equipment and provide some financial security as we move forward,” said Brian Zaher, representing the Ringhoff family, in a news release. “The proceeds will go a long way in enabling us to continue farming, and we thank county government and the people of Suffolk for their ongoing support for the farming industry on Long Island.”

Joe Gergala, president of the Long Island Farm Bureau, said in a news release that the bureau “is pleased that farmland preservation is a high priority in Suffolk County. Every piece of viable farmland is precious in protecting the critical mass we need in order to have a sustainable agricultural industry for future generations.”

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