GOVERNOR CUOMO ANNOUNCES $1 MILLION IN GRANT FUNDING TO SUPPORT ENTRY INTO NEW YORK AGRIBUSINESSApplications Now Being Accepted for 2016 New Farmers Grant Fund Program and New York State Young Farmers Loan Forgiveness Program
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $1 million in funding is available to assist new farmers begin their careers. Now in its second year, the New York State New Farmers Grant Fund will build upon a successful 2015 when more than $610,000 was awarded to 19 farms across the state in order to support the continued growth of New York’s agricultural industry."Farming remains an important industry in New York and an essential part of this state's economy," Governor Cuomo said. "By creating new opportunities for early-stage farmers to expand and diversify agricultural production across the state, we are bolstering the growth in this sector and helping to ensure its vitality for years to come." The $1 million New Farmers Grant Fund will provide grants of up to 50 percent of total project costs. Funds may provide a minimum of $15,000 and maximum of $50,000 for up to 50 percent of project costs with the remaining 50 percent being matched by the recipient. Eligible project costs include the purchase of farm machinery, supplies and equipment, and construction or improvement of farm buildings. Empire State Development, in consultation with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, will administer the Fund which is open to New York farmers in the first ten years of having a farm operation of 150 acres or less. The application and guidelines for the New York State New Farmers Grant Fund are available online and the deadline for submission is January 22, 2016. Click here for both the application and guidelines. Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Patty Ritchie said, “Agriculture is one of New York’s leading industries, and if we want it to continue to grow, we need to make sure we’re laying the ground work for its future. As Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I was pleased to advocate for the funding of the New Farmers Grant Fund, which will help ensure those interested in pursuing farming careers are able to afford the equipment, supplies and other things necessary for them to dig in and make their agribusiness successful.” Assembly Agriculture Committee Chair Bill Magee said, "New York consumers love our quality locally-produced food and beverages. But they can’t get that food unless we have a pipeline of well-trained young farmers with the tools they need to overcome the hurdles of starting or taking over a farm. The grant and loan forgiveness program ensure that the next generation of farmers have the help they need to succeed." Additionally, the New York State Young Farmers Loan Forgiveness Incentive Program, which encourages new college graduates to pursue farming careers in New York State, is now accepting applications for 2016. The Incentive Program, available through New York State Higher Education Services Corporation, 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. In its first year, funding was provided for up to 10 awards and all 10 awards were given to eligible farmers. The application for the New York State Young Farmers Loan Forgiveness Program is available online and the deadline for submission is December 1, 2015. Click here for the application. Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, "The New York State New Farmers Grant Fund will support the expansion and diversification of agribusiness statewide and allow early stage farmers to take their operations to the next level." New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "As a result of the Governor's support of our state's agribusinesses, the industry is stronger now than ever before. The first round of the New Farmers Grant Fund is proving to be successful and now this year's program will provide the opportunity for us to extend our reach even further. We look forward to providing a boost to our next generation farmers and bridging the gap of resources need to help build the future of agriculture across the state." New York State Higher Education Services Corporation Acting President Elsa Magee said, “It's essential that we support the pipeline of young entrants into the farming profession, and the full utilization of Young Farmers Loan Forgiveness Incentive Program in its inaugural year demonstrates the need for this type of educational assistance." New York Farm Bureau President Dean Norton said, "Beginning farmers are as an important resource to the future of New York agriculture as land and water. The grant fund and loan forgiveness program will kick start necessary investments that may be needed on growing farms and in turn support the agricultural economy statewide."