NY adds revolving loan fund for farms

Staff Reports Posted 24 May 2016 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – A farmer works a field by an orchard on Route 31 in Ridgeway last week.

New York has created a new $3 million revolving loan fund to assist the agricultural industry in the Finger Lakes region. The “Growing the Agriculture Industry Now” Revolving Loan Program includes $280,000 for farms in Orleans County.

That is not a huge amount, considering the multi-million-dollar capital projects at many farms. But it could help farmers pursue some initiatives, including energy projects such as solar installations and more efficient refrigeration systems, said Jim Whipple, CEO of the Orleans Economic Development Agency.

The state funds for the Growing the Agriculture Industry Now initiative will provide loans to capitalize on local agricultural businesses utilizing new technologies and expanding operations.

This new program fills a gap where new businesses who do not meet traditional financing organizations’ underwriting standards will be now be able to get started, according to a news release from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office.

The first advance of $1.2 million has been released to the Genesee/Finger Lakes Regional Planning Council, which in coordination with local development corporations, represents the nine county regions managing the loan program.

“Farming in the Finger Lakes region is an important industry and a key driver of the regional economy,” Governor Cuomo said. “By encouraging the use of innovative technologies and creating more opportunities for farmers, this new loan program will help shape the future of the region’s agricultural industry and ensure its vitality for years to come.”

GAIN is a Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council priority project. The $3 million in state support provided by Empire State Development, the state’s economic development agency, will leverage an additional $300,000 plus in local investment. The total investment fund of more than $3,300,000 million will provide loans to qualifying businesses in Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming and Yates counties, all of which are in the top ten agricultural counties in New York State. It is anticipated that the fund will create 150 direct jobs and 450 indirect jobs in the agriculture and good processing industry.

“Growing our agriculture and food processing industry is one of the utmost priorities of the FLREDC as it represents a crucial part of the region’s economy,” said Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chairs, Monroe Community College President Anne Kress and Wegmans Food Markets CEO Danny Wegman. “GAIN’s revolving loan pool to support the capital needs of agriculture and food processing companies, including new technology, diversification and expansion, will further advance the needs of the industry.”

The GAIN revolving loan program will give priority to agricultural and related business projects, including food processing and operating farms, which support job creation and job retention, as well as farm diversification (i.e., participate in farm-based retail and wholesale markets).

The program will also support businesses that invest in new technology, including renewable energy projects and new processing equipment, as well as ones that demonstrate growth in net revenue for agriculture enterprises; leverage other sources of funding; and provide secondary economic multipliers such as business expansions.

Loans can be up to $200,000 at an interest rate of one percent.

Those interested in learning more about the application process and the program can contact David Zorn at Genesee/Finger Lakes Regional Planning Council, 50 West Main Street, Suite 8107, Rochester, NY 14614; 585-454-0190 x14; or at dave.zorn@gflrpc.org.