Governor Andrew Cuomo 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,” Cuomo said.
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.
“Farming has a long and proud history in this country and has frequently been the profession of Veterans returning home and providing for their communities,” Division of Veterans’ Affairs Director Eric J. Hesse said. “Governor Cuomo’s New York State Veterans Farmer Grant Fund ensures that this tradition and the thriving agriculture of New York continues for future generations of New York Veterans.”
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 Jan. 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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.