State Agencies to Increase Percentage of Food Sourced from New York Farmers and Producers to 30 Percent by 2028
Governor Hochul Also Signs Bills to Address Technical Challenges in Farming and to Boost Agriculture Promotion and Support Smaller and New Fairs
Legislation (A.1528-A/S.1723-A) To Bring Together Students to Develop Innovative Agricultural Technologies as Part of the New York State Fair
Legislation (A.2935/S.5526) to Support Smaller and Newer Fairs Across the State and Promote Youth Involvement in Agriculture and Domestic Arts
Governor Kathy Hochul at the Great New York State Fair today signed an Executive Order directing State agencies to increase the percentage of food sourced from New York farmers and producers to 30 percent of their total purchases within five years. The Governor also signed legislation to bring together students at the New York State Fair to develop innovative agricultural technologies as well as legislation to support smaller and newer fairs across the state while promoting youth involvement in agriculture and domestic arts.
“Agriculture is the backbone of our state, and our state’s fairs are the perfect way of showcasing that – that's why we’re taking major steps to support both our farmers and our fairs,” Governor Hochul said. “By increasing the amount of food State agencies must buy from local growers and producers, we are further investing in farm production and food processing in New York. We will continue taking bold action to support our next generation of farmers and the future of our agricultural industry for decades to come.”
New York State agencies currently report spending nearly $4 million on New York food; this new effort would aim to procure and purchase nearly $400 million worth of food from New York farmers. The Executive Order directs the Office of General Services (OGS) to ensure its centralized food contracts highlight sourcing from New York producers. It requires agencies to report food purchases, including those purchased through contracted service providers, to OGS to ensure the 30 percent goal is being met. The 30 percent goal can be reached incrementally, with agencies purchasing 5 percent of their food products from New York by the end of this year; 15 percent by the end of 2024; 20 percent by the end of 2025; 25 percent by the end of 2026; and 30 percent by the end of 2027.
The Executive Order also directs the Department of Agriculture and Markets and OGS to convene a working group, which will include representatives from the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, the Office of Addiction Services and Supports, the Office of Mental Health, and the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, Department of Health, Office of the Aging, along with other state agencies that purchase food. The group will work to identify opportunities to increase the purchase of New York State food products, recommend guidance to assist state agencies in increasing the amount of New York State food product they purchase, and recommend data collection and reporting requirements to achieve the Executive Order’s goals.
The Executive Order also encourages county and municipal governments, as well as local school districts not already participating in the State’s 30 percent school initiative, to join in meeting this target.
In addition, Governor Hochul signed legislation (A.1528-A/S.1723-A), which starting next year, will bring together young people with interests in agriculture, science, and technology at the New York State Fair to develop innovative solutions to problems facing agriculture and food production. Technological advancements in farming have already drastically changed the agricultural industry and will likely continue to do so, and this will help spur interest and curiosity from young innovators and inventors into the challenges of the agricultural industry.
State Senator James Skoufis said, "This new youth challenge serves to empower our future farmers with the tools to navigate emerging challenges in the agricultural industry. The pressing problems that confront farmers and food producers today - including soaring production costs and the need for increased energy efficiency - cannot be neglected. I thank the Governor for signing the bill which will engage students at an early age and sow the seeds of innovation-fueled sustainability for a secure, healthier tomorrow."
Assemblymember Carrie Woerner said, “Governor Hochul’s signing of these two bills at this year’s New York State Fair highlights New York’s commitment to, and leadership role in, prioritizing youth involvement in agriculture. To meet the challenges of the future while maintaining the state’s strong agricultural traditions, New York must grow the pipeline of new farmers and farming techniques.”
Governor Hochul also signed legislation (A.2935/S.5526) to support smaller and newer fairs and promote youth involvement in agriculture and domestic arts by lowering the threshold for reimbursements. Providing funding to county fairs helps promote agriculture and domestic arts among youth by encouraging youth involvement in competitions involving arts and crafts, livestock, and showmanship. Currently, fairs must pay at least $5,000 in premiums as awards to youth in order to become eligible for state reimbursement. Due to this, smaller fairs across the state do not reach the $5,000 threshold for premiums paid and do not currently qualify for state reimbursement. To support all the entities that promote agriculture and domestic arts in the state, no matter what their size, the State will now offer a $2,500 reimbursement threshold to county fairs through this legislation, all of which organize these important competitions for New York State youth.
State Senator Michelle Hinchey said, “Small county fairs across New York State provide invaluable leadership opportunities that help young people build independence and life skills and gain confidence in their abilities. Through this legislation, we are providing small county fairs with a critical economic tool to help them maintain youth fair involvement and support our next generation of leaders. I thank Governor Hochul for signing our bill into law, and I look forward to seeing many local fairs across the State benefit from this expanded eligibility.”
New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball said, “With the success of our initiatives like Farm-to-School, the 30 percent New York State initiative, and Nourish New York, the Governor has set an exciting goal to increase institutional and agency buying of New York State food at 30 percent by 2028. This new initiative will be a game changer for New York agriculture, helping to provide an economic boost to our farmers and secure the local food supply chain, from farmer to consumer.”
New York State Office of General Services Commissioner Jeanette Moy said, “The OGS team is proud to have a vital role in Governor Hochul’s efforts to support New York’s farmers and use the State’s substantial buying power to boost our agricultural economy. We will work with our vendors and state agency partners to increase the availability and use of locally produced food offered through state contracts.”
New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher said, "New York Farm Bureau appreciates Gov. Hochul signing an executive order to make buying local more of a priority for the state, along with bills to invest in our young people. New York State government is a major market for New York products through state agencies, universities, and the prison system, among others. Increasing market capacity supports family businesses across New York, and gets more fresh, nutritious products into the hands of New Yorkers. It is a win-win. We also support initiatives to create more opportunities for youth at county fairs and through the new Youth Development Agriculture Technology Challenge. Technology is a big part of modern agriculture. Science and research are key to helping farms improve what they do, including taking on large challenges like climate change. Whether the students are in the North Country or New York City, if we invest in our young people, we can provide a better pathway for the next generation of problem solvers on our farms.”
Interim Executive Director of the NYS Horticultural Society Jim Bittner said, “Having been in production agriculture for over 40 years, I understand the importance of local products. As a dairy farmer, I provided a top-quality product; now that I have a fruit farm, I work to ensure that our apples, cherries, peaches, and other fruits can feed not only our local community but also all New Yorkers. I look forward to working with local municipalities and the State to fulfill the mission of the Governor’s Executive Order.”
Karin Reeves, Co-Owner and Sales Manager of Reeves Farm, said, “The Executive Order the Governor signed today should create more demand for food produced in New York State. Farms in New York have faced many challenges in the last five years, and this Executive Order is a step in the right direction. We need more creative opportunities such as this to help New York farmers weather some of the challenges they are facing. We are excited to see what new markets develop for farms as a result of this initiative.”
The Executive Order is a part of the Governor’s commitment made in her 2023 State of the State Address and New York State Budget to increase the resilience and capacity of New York’s food system and to strengthen local economies by creating additional demand for New York-grown agricultural products. It also builds on New York State’s efforts to support New York farmers and producers and connect them to new markets through programs like Farm-to-School, the 30 percent New York State initiative, Nourish New York, and New York State Grown & Certified. In addition, the Governor's recent actions to support Farm-to-School initiatives included in the FY 2024 State Budget significantly raised the discretionary threshold for schools to purchase local food and food products from $20,000 to $150,000.
Complementary to these initiatives, Cornell University’s Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management is currently researching variables that impact the true cost of food with the goal of increasing the competitiveness of local food procurement. The working group will review this research and incorporate it into its analysis and discussions around procurement options moving forward.