New Farmers Grant Fund Commits $1 Million to Support Early-Stage Farmers
New Program Provides Additional Farm Funding to New York State Veterans
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that $1.25 million in funding is available through two grant programs designed to assist farmers across the state. The New Farmers Grant Fund helps new and early-stage farmers, and the New York State Veterans Farmer Grant Fund supports farms owned and operated by military veterans. Both programs are designed to promote growth and development in the state's agriculture industry.
"Agriculture remains a major sector of our economy and by supporting the development of early-stage farmers, these businesses will continue to provide fresh, local produce for New Yorkers across the state," Governor Cuomo said. "This grant fund will bolster our agricultural industry by providing both veterans and farmers the support they need to expand, and thrive."
New Farmers Grant Fund
Now in its fourth round, 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.
More than $1 million was awarded to 27 new and early-stage farms across the state in the third round of the New Farmers Grant Fund. Since its launch in 2014, the program has provided nearly $2.5 million to over 65 farms across the state to expand operations and improve profitability.
Veterans Farmer Grant Fund
A new $250,000 grant program, the New York State Veterans Farmer Grant Fund, will also provide grants of up to $50,000 for up to 50 percent of eligible project costs. To qualify, at least 50 percent of the farm business must be owned, operated and controlled by a veteran, as defined in the program guidelines. The farm must also have a minimum of $10,000 in farm income; however, this program is not limited to beginning farmers. Eligible project costs are the same as for the New Farmers Grant Fund.
Empire State Development, in consultation with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, administers the grant funds. The applications and guidelines for the New Farmers Grant Fund and the Veterans Farm Grant Fund are available online. The deadline for submission is January 26, 2018.
These grant programs are central to the state's efforts to grow New York's agricultural industry through strategic investments in the next generation of farmers. Currently, the average age of New York farmers is approximately 55. At the same time, there is greater interest from women, veterans, new Americans, and others in beginning a career or starting a second career in farming.
This year, at the direction of Governor Cuomo, the State Department of Agriculture and Markets established a Beginning Farmer Program, including a one-stop shop, to help these groups overcome obstacles to entering the profession and maintaining a successful agricultural operation in New York. Through the program, the Department launched a statewide listening tour to address challenges facing early-stage farmers and to provide information about existing resources available to them. Additional resources for new or prospective farmers are available on the Department's website, or by contacting the one-stop shop at (718) 722-2668 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, "Governor Cuomo's administration is committed to promoting the sustainability of the state's agriculture industry, through increased markets for farm products, job creation and better access to capital. By supporting beginning farmers and military veterans, these grant funds continue New York State's dedication to the farm economy."
New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "Governor Cuomo has brought a new focus to advancing agriculture in New York State and because of his commitment, there are so many new opportunities. Innovative initiatives like these grant programs are helping to pave the way for the next generation of farmers, including our veterans whose experience in the military make them uniquely qualified for jobs on the farm. We are proud to help administer this critical funding and support the future of our industry."
Division of Veterans' Affairs Director Eric J. Hesse said, "Farming has a long and proud history in this country and has frequently been the profession of Veterans returning home and providing for their communities. Governor Cuomo's New York State Veterans Farmer Grant Fund ensures that this tradition and the thriving agriculture of New York continues for future generations of New York Veterans."
Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Patty Ritchie said, "The future of New York's agriculture industry depends on attracting new people to the profession. Through the Veterans Farmer Grant Fund, we are connecting those who have given so much to our country with rewarding post-service careers. With another round of the New Farmers Grant Fund, we are again providing those just starting with the support they need to achieve success in their new ventures. I have been proud to spearhead these programs, and thank Governor Cuomo, as well as Commissioner Ball, for recognizing how critical they are to growing - and protecting - the future of New York's leading industry."
Assembly Agriculture Committee Chair Bill Magee said, "These important investments in our agriculture movement show needed support for early stage farms and our veterans who are returning home that are looking for promising career choices in start-up farms and agribusinesses."
Assemblyman Michael DenDekker, Chair of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs said, "I would like to thank Governor Cuomo for supporting veteran farmers in the state of New York. The new $250,000 grant program, will help our veterans expand their productivity and improve profitability. I look forward to continue working for veterans in the farming industry as well as various other occupations."
New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher said, "Securing capital is one of the greatest challenges for beginning farmers looking to get their new businesses off the ground. These grants can be the seeds to growing the future of farming, and New York Farm Bureau appreciates the focus on new farmers who have much to offer the agricultural community, including veterans who possess unique skills well suited for farming."