Empire State Development (ESD) and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets today announced $1 million in funding is available to assist early-stage farmers through the New York State New Farmers Grant Fund. The program, now in its fifth year, promotes growth and development in the state’s agriculture industry. To date, $3.27 million has been awarded to nearly 90 farms throughout New York State to expand their operations and improve their profitability.
ESD President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “Agriculture is vital to New York State’s economy, and the New Farmers Grant Fund supports our early stage farmers by promoting projects that increase overall farm profitability and ensure sustainability of farming operations.”
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “The New Farmers Grant Fund encourages young people and those seeking second careers to pursue a livelihood that is not always easy but always rewarding. We thank Governor Cuomo and the legislature for their continued support of our state’s agricultural economy through programs like these, which give farmers the resources they need to grow or expand their operations and support our state’s long tradition of farming, which is essential to our health, economy and quality of life.”
The $1 million New Farmers Grant Fund will provide grants of up to $50,000 to assist with up to 50 percent of eligible project costs. To qualify, all farm business owners must be within the first ten years of having an ownership interest in any farm business, and the farm must have a minimum of $10,000 in income from sales of products grown or raised on the farm. Eligible project costs include the purchase of machinery, equipment, supplies, and the construction or improvement of agricultural structures.
Applications and guidelines for the New Farmers Grant Fund are available online. The deadline for submission is January 25, 2019.
New farmers are a critical piece of the overall agricultural landscape in the State and the future of the industry. To further support the State’s new and beginning farmers, the Department of Agriculture & Markets launched a New and Beginning Farmer One Stop Shop in 2017. The web-based resource helps new and beginning farmers connect to the resources and services that can help their businesses thrive. Information can be found online here.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Patty Ritchie said, “With every new farmer we can attract to our state, we are ensuring the future of New York’s leading industry and allowing families a better opportunity to have local, farm-fresh foods on their table. This program has been key in helping people just starting out in the agriculture industry to begin their careers. I look forward to seeing how this next round of grants builds on that momentum and boosts New York’s farming economy as a whole.”.”
Assembly Agriculture Committee Chair Bill Magee said, “Qualifying farmers can benefit greatly from the New Farmers Grant Fund as they seek to expand and increase their agricultural businesses; this funding goes a long way toward helping the next generation of farmers to get a foothold in New York farmland production and preservation.”
New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher said, “The New Farmer Grant Fund continues to assist men and women who are in the beginning stages of taking their farms to the next level. There can be many barriers for beginning farmers, the lack of capital and the cost of machinery are to name a few. With the additional support of the State of New York, the grants will provide opportunities for the next generation of farmers to build upon their dreams of having a successful farm business.”
Lindsey Lusher Shute, Executive Director and Co-Founder of the National Young Farmers Coalition, said, “A little help goes a long way for New York’s young farmers. Access to grant funds for the purchase of equipment or to invest in farm infrastructure can help launch a career and reboot a local farm economy. The National Young Farmers Coalition appreciates Governor Cuomo’s ongoing commitment to investing in the success of New York’s young farmers.”
New York State is home to 36,000 farms that are top producers of more than 30 commodities, including apples, grapes, snap beans, maple products and dairy. New York’s dairy industry is the largest sector of the state’s agricultural industry, accounting for approximately one-half of its on-farm production, support services and value-added products.