Funding Will Help 29 Fruit and Vegetable Farms Implement Environmental Plans Needed to Participate in New York’s Agricultural Promotion Program
Announcement Coincides With Earth Week and Supports New York’s Commitment to Protecting the Environment
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced more than $1 million has been awarded to 29 specialty crop farms through the Agricultural Environmental Management grant program. The program, funded through the Environmental Protection Fund, helps growers produce their products in an environmentally responsible manner. This funding will also help more farms join the State’s New York State Grown & Certified program. Farmers must participate in an environmental management program to be eligible for the State’s agricultural promotion and certification program.
"New York farms are renowned for their world-class produce, and the Grown & Certified program supports the connection between farmers and consumers while encouraging environmentally sustainable practices," Governor Cuomo said. "This funding, coinciding with Earth Week, will help more farmers adopt green practices – ensuring that New York’s natural resources are preserved and our farms can thrive for generations to come."
An Agricultural Environmental Management plan assists fruit, vegetable and other specialty crop growers to produce foods using the highest environmental standards by helping farmers protect and improve New York’s natural resources, including water and soil quality. New York State’s County Soil and Water Conservation Districts were eligible to apply for this first-ever program on behalf of farmers. Maximum award amounts for projects were $50,000 and included funding for micro-irrigation systems, equipment upgrades to reduce pesticide application, best practices to protect surface and groundwater resources, mitigate wash water runoff, and implement cover crops to reduce soil erosion and to enhance pollinator habitat.
The following districts in six regions have been awarded:
- Ontario County Soil and Water Conservation District (1 farm) - $50,000
- Orleans County Soil and Water Conservation District (10 farms) - $414, 945
- Wayne County Soil and Water Conservation District (3 farms) – $129,170
Central New York
- Onondaga County Soil and Water Conservation District (1 farm) - $6,910
- Jefferson County Soil and Water Conservation District (1 farm) - $22,900
Western New York
- Niagara County Soil and Water Conservation District (4 farms) - $78,352
- Chautauqua County Soil and Water Conservation District (1 farm) - $29,302
- Ulster County Soil and Water Conservation District (2 farms) - $69,286
- Saratoga County Soil and Water Conservation District (6 farms) - $223,058
For growers, participation in the AEM program and Good Agricultural Practices certification allows for greater access to programs, such as New York State Grown & Certified. New York State Grown & Certified’s marketing campaign includes on-product labels and promotional materials, such as a website, video and sales materials, to encourage program participation among producers and to educate retail, wholesale and institutional buyers on the value of the program.
Launched in August 2016, the New York State Grown & Certified program assures consumers that the food they are buying is local and produced to a higher standard by requiring participating producers to adopt good agricultural practices and enroll in the Agricultural Environmental Management program.
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "The AEM program helps our growers produce products in a manner that reduces risk to our State’s precious natural resources. By participating in AEM, our growers are eligible for the New York State Grown & Certified program as well. Thanks to Governor Cuomo and his creation of this agricultural promotion program, this funding will also help market our producers who are meeting the growing consumer demand for food that is safely handled and grown in an environmentally sustainable way."
Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Senator Patty Ritchie said, "New York’s hardworking farmers have a tradition of not only growing food we depend on, but also being good stewards of the land they use. I would like to thank Governor Cuomo and Commissioner Ball for recognizing how important it is to give farmers increased opportunities for improving their land, protecting the environment and growing foods for consumers who are increasingly looking to eat local."
Assembly Agriculture Committee Chair Assemblyman Bill Magee said, "The Agriculture Environmental Management Grant Program, administered by the County Soil and Water Conservation Districts, can help New York’s farmers to manage their practices in order to comply with requirements of programs such as New York Grown and Certified in order to add product value and increase consumer confidence in locally grown foods."
Chairman of the New York State Soil and Water Conservation Committee Dale Stein said, "The AEM program allows all farms in New York State to identify any environmental concerns and develop a strong long-term plan to address those concerns. With these awards, nearly 30 farms will be able to implement best management practices, such as cover crops, to become more environmentally sustainable and participate in the New York State Grown & Certified program."