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NY has $1.25 million available in grants for new farmers, veterans in agriculture

Posted 20 October 2017 at 2:35 pm

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office

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 nyc@agriculture.ny.gov.

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.”

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.”

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