8: Zoning Regulations and Farming

8: Zoning Regulations and Farming

Municipal Zoning Laws

If you plan to build a new farm facility, establish a retail farm outlet, add worker housing, add horse boarding/riding facilities, etc., check with your local municipality to find out which laws apply.  Some common restrictions and requirements might include:  road setbacks, lot size, dimensions, signage size and placement, site plan requirements, screening, etc.

Farms located in certified agricultural districts are generally exempt from many local and some state regulations including SEQR (State Environmental Quality Review), some building codes, and from the need to provide professionally stamped plans for farm buildings, etc. Contact your county planning or assessment departments to see if the property of interest is in an agricultural district.

If you are located in an agricultural district and find local zoning to be excessively restrictive to your farm development plans, check the NYS Dept. of Agriculture & Markets website for information on local laws and the agricultural district law and how they relate.  In many cases, the Agricultural District law protects farm operations from restrictive local laws.  For more information, access the following document from the Ag & Markets website:

A process exists by which you can request an opinion from NYS Dept. of Agriculture & Markets Agricultural Protection Program staff to make a determination if a local law is restrictive to farming.  It is suggested that you call the staff and discuss the matter with them prior to filing an official request for assistance (see telephone number listed below).  Formal requests for assistance must be made in writing and include details on local restrictions and requirements as evidenced in zoning code or some other ruling.

If you are not located in an Agricultural District then you must comply with local regulations.

Fact Sheet Overview

    Mail a Request for Review: 
    NYS Dept. of Agriculture & Markets Div. of Agricultural Protection & Development Services mailing address:

    10 B Airline Drive
    Albany, NY 12205


    NYS Building Codes

    Farm buildings are exempt from the building code for construction. To learn about whether or not your farm is exempt from the property maintenance and some fire safety code requirements, contact:

    New York State Department of State Code Enforcement and Administration

    One Commerce Plaza
    99 Washington Ave, Suite 1160
    Albany, NY 12231

    Phone: 518-474-4073


    Local Laws and Agricultural Districts:  Guidance for Farmers and Local Governments