Alliance for New York’s Farmland Coalition Applauds State Budget with Unprecedented Support for the Next Generation of Farmers and Farmland
ALBANY, NY—The Alliance for New York’s Farmland, a coalition of farmers, land trusts, and agricultural and environmental organizations led by American Farmland Trust (AFT), applauds the passage of New York’s SFY22 budget, which includes unprecedented support for programs to keep land in farming and farmers on the land.
A third of New York’s farmers are currently 65 or older, owning and operating nearly two million acres of land vulnerable to being lost as farmers retire and it changes hands. At the same time, new and beginning farmers face major barriers to finding affordable and suitable land to farm. This year, state lawmakers—including new State Senate Agriculture Committee chair Michelle Hinchey, Legislative Commission on Rural Resources chair Senator Rachel May, Assembly Agriculture Committee chair Donna Lupardo, and Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner—heeded the call to support farmers through this wave of transition by increasing funding for Farmland for a New Generation New York (FNG-NY) to $500,000 in this years’ state budget. This statewide program delivered in partnership with New York State of Agriculture and Markets serves as a free one-stop-shop for farmers to find farmland and landowners to find a farmer. This funding will support the www.nyfarmlandfinder.org website featuring farmer and farmland profiles, a farm job listings page, events and trainings, and a first point of contact at AFT to offer free guidance and advice. It will also enable FNG-NY Regional Navigators, a network comprised of land trusts, Cornell Cooperative Extension, and other non-profits, to continue to provide dedicated on-the-ground support to farmland owners and seekers in all 62 counties of New York. Previously funded at $400,000, the additional $100,000 will support increased capacity for Regional Navigators to serve farmers and landowners across the state and will make resources and support more available to non-English speaking farmers to assist them in finding land.
Farmland protection also plays a critical role in making land accessible and affordable for the next generation of farmers. The Alliance for New York’s Farmland applauds Governor Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Stewart Cousins, Senator Todd Kaminsky, Speaker Carl Heastie, and Assemblyman Steve Englebright for including $18 million for farmland protection as part of a $300 million Environmental Protection Fund in the state budget to permanently protect our state’s irreplaceable acres of farmland – the foundation of New York’s $47 billion farm and food economy. The Alliance also applauds Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders for including the $3 billion Environmental Bond Act in the state budget. If passed by voters in November of 2022, this once-in-a-generation investment into climate mitigation, clean water, and green jobs will dedicate at least $100 million in funding for permanent farmland protection, as well as robust funding for other projects that will ensure our farmers are able to continue to produce healthy food while combating climate change.
“American Farmland Trust applauds state lawmakers for working tirelessly this year to increase funding for the Farmland for a New Generation New York program, for Farmland Protection, and for all agricultural programs,” said Samantha Levy, New York Policy Manager for American Farmland Trust. “The important timing of the state’s investment cannot be overstated. With food insecurity on the rise and the weaknesses in the global supply chains revealed by the pandemic, we must all work to keep farms and farmland in New York and strengthen our local and regional food systems, and that starts with the land we farm on and the farmers who grow our food. Without this continued support, the intergenerational transition of farms threatens a quarter of New York’s farmland and the food, environmental benefits, and economic activity that New York farmers provide. AFT applauds Governor Cuomo, and Senate and Assembly leadership for continuing to invest in these critical programs that will strengthen the future for farming in New York for generations to come.”
State Senator Michelle Hinchey, Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee said, “Our farmers are the cornerstone of our state’s economy, the stewards of our natural resources, and the people responsible for the food on our tables. As Senate Agriculture Chair, I am incredibly proud to have secured record funding in the state budget for the vital programs and services our farmers need to keep our state’s leading industry at the forefront. From helping farmers preserve agricultural lands, to increased investment in critical research and development initiatives, to bringing in a diverse community of new farmers through progressive programs like AFT’s Farmland for a New Generation, this is a state budget that lays the groundwork to support a resilient farming future for New York.”
State Assemblymember Donna Lupardo, Chair of the Committee on Agriculture said, “I was pleased to support an increase in funding for the Farmland Protection and Farmland for a New Generation New York programs; both are important parts of our strategy to strengthen the future of farming in NYS. These programs work hand in hand to preserve productive farmland for the next generation of farmers and support new farmers in finding land and getting started. I am especially pleased that the program is increasing support for Regional Navigators and providing interpretation services, which help even more farmers from diverse backgrounds find land to start or expand their farm businesses. These programs are two of numerous investments we are making to build on our strong farming tradition and strengthen our regional food system.”
State Senator Rachel May, Chair of the Legislative Commission on Rural Resources said, “New York state farms are facing enormous pressure: pressure from developers, pressure from rising costs of production and shrinking profits, and pressure to find successors to keep the farm operation going when it is time to retire. The state’s Farmland Protection program and the Farmland for a New Generation New York program and network actively, and successfully, address two of those three problems. Their continued involvement in New York agriculture is crucial, as is making sure we fund programs like these. Bringing in younger farmers, and BIPOC farmers, is an important and challenging task, which FNG-NY is actively working to address in partnership with organizations across the state. Making sure there is still land to farm is why funding Farmland Protection is so important.”
State Assemblymember Carrie Woerner said, “I am pleased to have been able to lead the effort in the legislature to increase funding for the Farmland for a New Generation. The success that this program has had over the previous two years in preserving farmland by connecting new and beginning farmers with those farmers who are retiring or otherwise interested in selling their land is significant. Farmland for a New Generation is a program that is broadly supported across the state and I look forward to the continuation of their good work.”
Renee Bouplon, Associate Director of Agricultural Stewardship Association said, “New York’s continued investment in farmland conservation will provide numerous benefits to all New Yorkers in regards to food security, climate resiliency and natural resource protection. We are grateful to Governor Andrew Cuomo, the New York State Legislature and New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets for prioritizing the protection of working lands in this year’s budget. We also applaud their continued support of the Farmland for a New Generation New York program. Together these programs assist New York in being a strong, vibrant agricultural state for years to come.”
Troy Weldy, President of Columbia Land Conservancy said, “Protecting Columbia County’s farmland and increasing farmland access is integral to the Columbia Land Conservancy’s mission. We are pleased that during these challenging economic times New York State continues to support our local farming community to ensure that New York remains a national leader in agriculture far into the future.”
Chris Watkins, Director of Cornell Cooperative Extension said, “All of us in Cornell Cooperative Extension applaud New York State for its support and increased funding of this vital program that facilitates farmland for the next generation. The pandemic has exposed food supply issues and the demand for local food by New York’s consumers, and therefore protecting farmland and keeping a strong farmer community has never been more important.”
Benjamin Gajewski, Executive Director of the Genesee Valley Conservancy said, “Land is a finite resource, as New Yorkers we must continue to invest in protecting our highly productive agricultural lands that feed our communities, protect lands that filter the water our families drink, and protect those special places that provide recreation and educational uses for our children. The Environmental Protection Fund helps to permanently protect the important lands of New York State.”
Kathleen Finlay, President at the Glynwood Center for Regional Food and Farming in Cold Spring, NY said, “With the assets we have in NYS, we have an opportunity: not only to reimagine a better food system that benefits our natural environment, but to build it in partnership with the public and private sectors. These outcomes in the state budget will ensure that the public sector is a key partner in driving that innovation at a local, regional and state level, starting from the ground-up: quite literally through farmland protection and farmland access for a greater diversity of farmers.”
Meme Hanley, New York Senior Program Manager for the Land Trust Alliance said, “The Land Trust Alliance thanks Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Sen. Michelle Hinchey and Assemblywoman Donna A. Lupardo for their continued support for farmland protection as part of a $300 million Environmental Protection Fund. Across the state, this crucial source of funding enables land trusts to work with farmers and local municipalities to protect working agricultural lands for current and future generations.”
Erika Rincon, New York State Campaign Organizer for National Young Farmers Coalition said, “Farmland for a New Generation is an important tool for connecting the next generation of New York farmers to land. Young farmers face many challenges accessing farmland and the regional navigator program gives them one on one support to be successful. We are excited to see that the state has recognized this program’s value by investing in its expansion.”
Jessica Ottney Mahar, New York Policy and Strategy Director for The Nature Conservancy said, “The Nature Conservancy applauds the Senate, Assembly and Governor for passing a state budget that makes investments in clean water, conservation, local farms, and helps New York alleviate the impacts of climate change. We know that the $300 million Environmental Protection Fund and $3 billion Environmental Bond Act will create more than 65,000 good-paying jobs across New York, furthering our economic recovery from the pandemic while conserving natural resources future generations depend on. Thank you especially to Senate Environmental Committee Chair Todd Kaminsky and Assembly Environmental Committee Chair Steve Englebright for their leadership in ensuring these measures were part of the approved budget.”
Julie Tighe, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters said, “We applaud the Governor and State Legislature on prioritizing environmental funding in the final budget, including funding to protect our farms. Now, New York can invest in critical programs to mitigate the effects of climate change while creating good-paying, green jobs and keeping our family farms going. With a $3 billion Environmental Bond Act, $300 million for the Environmental Protection Fund, and $18 million to protect our farmland, we can put thousands of New Yorkers back to work improving our communities and protect farmland for working farmers. We thank Governor Cuomo, Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, Speaker Heastie, Senators Todd Kaminsky and Michelle Hinchey, and Assemblymembers Steve Englebright and Donna Lupardo for their continued commitment to the environment and farmland protection.”
Elizabeth Henderson, Co-Chair of the Policy Committee for NOFA-NY said, “With so many aging farmers in NYS lacking a next generation to take over, we are really pleased at the steady funding for farmland preservation and the increase for programming to match would-be farmers, especially people of color, with farming opportunities.”
Jonathan Brown, Director of the Food and Beverage Law Clinic at PACE University said, “I’m thrilled that the state is committed to supporting and growing Farmland for a New Generation New York. Transitioning farmland to the next generation of farmers is a complex process, and finding affordable and appropriate farmland is challenging for so many young farmers. It takes a coordinated effort of many great organizations in our state to meet these challenges, and FNG-NY is making that possible.”
John v.H. Halsey, President of Peconic Land Trust said, “Through the challenges of the past year, we have seen how important our working farms, parks, trails, and open spaces are to members of our communities. We thank our legislators for recognizing the importance of environmental funding in this year’s budget. Thank you for funding the Environmental Protection Fund and the Farmland for a New Generation program, and for advancing the Environmental Bond Act. On Long Island, these programs will help us continue to protect and preserve the farms that provide a wide array of agricultural products that feed our communities, and well as provide programs that will help sustain and encourage future generations of farmers.”
Andy Bicking, Director of Advocacy and Government Relations for Scenic Hudson said, “Conserving the lands that feed us and supporting the farm families who work them have never been more important. In the Hudson Valley and across the state, people recognize the essential role farmers have played in keeping us healthy during the pandemic. Continued investment in the state’s Farmland Protection and Farmland for a New Generation New York (FNG-NY) programs from the Legislature and Governor will ensure that more nutritious food will reach the tables of all New Yorkers and support the hard-working farmers who sustain the state’s vital agricultural economy.”
Mike Sweeton, Supervisor for the Town of Warwick said, “As a community that has preserved over 4,600 acres of working farms, many with help from the NYS farmland preservation program, we applaud the State’s commitment in this year’s budget. I am especially pleased to see the increase in the “Farmland for a New Generation” program, so vital to keep young farmers farming the land.”
Nancy Smith, Executive Director of the Western New York Land Conservancy said, “The Environmental Bond Act is an absolutely critical piece of legislation for the future of New York State. If it passes, our community will be able to save more of our most important and threatened forests, meadows, wetlands, and streams. We are truly grateful for continued support of the EPF, which has helped us protect farms like the WBB Farm in Alden, and is also helping us create The Riverline, a new nature trail and greenway in the heart of the city of Buffalo.”
American Farmland Trust is the only national organization that takes a holistic approach to agriculture, focusing on the land itself, the agricultural practices used on that land, and the farmers and ranchers who do the work. AFT launched the conservation agriculture movement and continues to raise public awareness through our No Farms, No Food message. Since our founding in 1980, AFT has helped permanently protect over 6.5 million acres of agricultural lands, advanced environmentally-sound farming practices on a half million additional acres and supported thousands of farm families.