Wayne County Agriculture Development Board


The Agriculture Development Board was originally named the Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board and was first appointed in 1993. The Board felt that this title was a bit cumbersome and implied the primary goal was to purchase development rights. However, the new Board name, adopted in 2003, now reflects the commitment to creating a positive climate for profitable and rewarding farm businesses.

Responsibilities include implementing and updating the County Ag and Farmland Protection Plan, assisting in the review of the County Agricultural districts, and providing responses to Notice of Intent proceedings from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets (NYSDAM).

The Ag Development Board was very involved with the development of the first Agriculture and Farmland Protection Plan that was adopted in 1997, which was most recently updated in 2011.  The Board offers advice to the Board of Supervisors on Ag Policy, makes recommendations on modifications to the county-wide Agricultural District No. 1, and organizes an annual policy-makers bus tour of farms.  The Board meets about 6-times per year, usually at 7:00 PM at Cooperative Extension.  It is not uncommon for the farmers to miss a meeting during spring and fall busy seasons.  Some grant programs require a resolution of support from the Ag Development Board, other times letters or resolutions are authored to support different projects.  

The Board can identify particular projects in the Ag & Farmland Protection plan to move forward through volunteer and/or County efforts. In 1997, the Board encouraged and supported the passing of the County Right-to-farm law, later updated in 2008.  In 2015-16, the Board advised and made recommendations regarding the process, report and modification during the eight-year review of the Wayne County Agricultural District No. 1.  Each January, Wayne County has an open enrollment period for the Ag District and makes recommendations to the Board of Supervisors about the viability of the parcel that is identified in the application.

The Board works with the NYS Farm Bureau, Cooperative Extension and Soil & Water Conservation District to hold a policy-maker tour each year for Supervisors and others. The intent of the tour is to highlight different types of farming and the importance of agriculture in the County while promoting the idea that farming is a viable business.  Often the tour includes a meal with an outside speaker.  Over the years we have had presentations by Commissioners of Agriculture, Cornell Professors, and American Farmland Trust. For more information, contact Ora Rothfuss at the County Planning Office. 


Statutory Members

  • Karen Ambroz, Director, Real Property Tax Service, Walworth
  • Maggie McHugh, Interim Executive Director, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Newark
  • Jody Bender, Town Supervisor, Town of Marion (2023)
  • Lindsey Gerstenslager, Executive Director, Soil and Water District, Lyons
  • Ora Rothfuss III, Ag Development Specialist, Planning, Rose

Farm Members

  • Luke DeFisher, Chairman of the Ag Board, Apple Farm, Cidery, Williamson (2026)
  • Bob Deemer, Apiary, Arcadia (2024)
  • Mike Frederes, Crop Farm, Walworth (2026)
  • Roberta Wolf, Lyons, Dairy Farm (2024)
  • Zachary DeBadts, Fruit Farm, Sodus (2025)
  • Duane Crandon, Cattle and crop farm, Lyons (2025)


Members of the Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board are appointed by the Wayne County Board of Supervisors to 4-year terms. Six of the positions are at-large positions and at least four are filled by farm business owners. There may be representation of a land trust on the Board. There are 5 statutory positions: Board of Supervisors, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Real Property Tax Service, Soil and Water Conservation District, and County Planning. The term ends on December 31st of the year listed by each member's name.