October 14, 2014
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Launches New Farmers Grant Fund to Support Agribusiness in New York

Governor Cuomo Launches New Farmers Grant Fund to Support Agribusiness in New York

New York State New Farmers Grant Fund Will Support Farmers, Encourage Farming Career Path

Department of Agriculture & Markets Convenes Working Group to Assist New Farmers

New York State Young Farmers Loan Forgiveness Incentive Program Now Taking Applications

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced several initiatives to assist new and early-stage farmers, and encourage the continued growth of agribusiness across New York. The New York State New Farmers Grant Fund, which will support beginning farmers and encourage farming as a career, launched today and is now taking applications. The $614,000 Fund, enacted in the 2014-2015 New York State Budget and signed into law by Governor Cuomo, will be used to provide grants for beginning farmers who will substantially participate in the production of an agriculture product, and employ the use of innovative agricultural techniques at commercial farm operations throughout the State.

“New York’s farmers play a central role in New York’s economy, and today we’re taking another step forward in supporting them and their industry,” Governor Cuomo said. “By funding as much as 50 percent of the start-up costs for young farmers, we are creating new opportunities for young farmers across the State and planting the seeds for their long-term success. I am proud to be supporting the next generation of farmers in New York, and I look forward to seeing our agricultural economy flourish for seasons and generations to come.”

The $614,000 Fund will provide grants of up to $50,000 for eligible farmers who participate in the production of an agricultural product on a commercial farm operation within New York. Funds can be used for up to 50 percent of project costs including, but not limited to: lease or purchase of farm machinery and equipment; construction or expansion of farm buildings or systems; and purchase of supplies such as root stock, seed or fertilizer. Empire State Development, in consultation with the Department of Agriculture and Markets, will administer the Fund.

The application for the New York State New Farmers Grant Fund is available HERE; the deadline for submission is January 28, 2015.

In addition, at the Governor’s direction, State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball will be convening a working group to examine the barriers to establishing an agricultural operation and the assistance that is available. Partnering with Empire State Development, the working group will consist of agency representatives, lenders and financial institutions, land resource specialists, and select groups or individuals that represent the “new, beginning” farmer. Members are in the process of being finalized. The first meeting of the group is scheduled for October 30, 2014 from 1:00 – 3:30 p.m. at the Department of Agriculture and Markets in Albany.

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Kenneth Adams said, “Working with our partners at the Department of Agriculture & Markets, we are investing in the farmers of our future and making it easier to establish an agriculture operation in New York State. The New York State New Farmers Grant Fund will provide the support many of our farmers need to grow their businesses.”

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “When I first became interested in making agriculture my livelihood, I didn’t have a farm to go home to, and many are in that same situation across New York. There are a number of obstacles for beginning farmers, including start-up costs and access to capital. This new program will help dozens of New Yorkers to succeed in the profession that I’m so proud to be a part of.”

To help encourage recent college graduates to pursue careers in farming in New York State, the New York State Young Farmers Loan Forgiveness Incentive Program, also passed in this year’s budget, is now taking applications. The program provides loan forgiveness awards to individuals who obtain an undergraduate degree from an approved New York State college or university and agree to operate a farm in New York State, on a full-time basis, for five years.

The application for the New York State Young Farmers Loan Forgiveness Program is available HERE; the deadline for submission is December 15.

New York State Higher Education Services Corporation Acting President Elsa Magee said, “Through the administration of this new loan forgiveness program, HESC is able to assist in this coordinated and meaningful effort to remove barriers that discourage young New Yorkers from pursuing a career in agriculture. Given the response to the program that has been received to date, it is clear that the loan forgiveness program will serve to sustain and enhance new entrants in the agricultural industry.”

Senate Agriculture Chair State Senator Patty Ritchie said, “For decades, farming has been a way of life, handed down from generation to generation, with those who work the land serving as the backbone of our state’s economy. However, research has shown the average age of New York farmers is increasing and fewer and fewer young people are pursuing agriculture careers. These initiatives seek to remedy this issue and preserve our state’s robust agriculture industry for years to come by offering incentives that will help encourage more people who are just starting out in their careers to join the ranks of our state’s hardworking farmers.”

Assemblyman Bill Magee said, “By providing the assistance our youngest farmers need through initiatives like the Farmers Grant Fund, we are ensuring the agriculture industry has a foundation from which to continue to grow. I’m pleased the State is continuing to support agribusiness, which is a key driver of New York’s economy and job creation.”

New York Farm Bureau President Dean Norton said, “As the average age of farmers increases each year, we must encourage both young and new farmers to become an active part of our farming community. Programs such these two are an excellent way to not only promote and develop agriculture, but are also a great approach to ensuring New York continues to be a top contender in the national market.”

Agriculture is one of the most important economic drivers in New York State. According to a 2014 study published by Professor Todd Schmit of Cornell University, when agriculture is incorporated with agricultural production, support services, and manufacturing, it represents a $53.7 billion industry in New York and accounts for more than 200,000 jobs.

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