Governor Cuomo’s Proposed 2020 State Budget Holds Potential for New York Farms
This statement can be attributed to AFT New York Policy Manager Samantha Levy.
“American Farmland Trust applauds Governor Cuomo’s 2020 State of the State for its inclusion of programs that could serve to improve environmental outcomes of farming, increase farm revenues while providing school children across the state of New York access to fresh, local New York grown food, and support diversity and racial equity in New York agriculture.
“The State of the State included three proposals to accomplish these outcomes: $3 billion for the ‘Restore Mother Nature Bond Act’; the expansion of NY Thursdays to more schools in the state and the creation of a task force to support increased diversity, equity, and inclusion in New York agriculture.
“The ‘Restore Mother Nature Bond Act’ focused on habitat restoration and flood reduction presents an opportunity to enhance the environmental sustainability of New York farms and help them weather the impacts of climate change while improving surrounding water quality and reducing flooding. Farmers steward over 25% of New York land and their efforts serve all citizens in this state. However, farmers operate on tight margins and need our support to implement farming practices that improve environmental impacts of farming and help to sequester carbon and mitigate climate change. We look forward to working with the governor and the state Legislature this year to ensure the Act will include programs that help farmers combat climate change and protect farmland and clean water.
“NY Thursdays has helped schools from New York City to Buffalo and beyond establish sustainable Farm to School initiatives, an area of great potential growth for the state farm economy that is also supportive of the urgent need to improve nutrition for school-age children, especially those who don’t get enough to eat at home. Through its Farm to Institution New York State, or FINYS, AFT has worked to support the governor’s No Student Goes Hungry Initiative and the Farm to School Grants Program and School Lunch Reimbursement Incentive, all of which have worked to increase the purchases of farm products by schools since their creation. This task force, which will work to expand NY Thursdays while identifying and lowering additional barriers schools face in buying New York grown food, will keep us on this path to achieve the incredible potential of these programs to improve the farm economy, strengthen rural communities, and increase access to local food for New York kids.
“We are encouraged by the governor’s commitment to develop a strategic plan to support increased diversity and racial equity in New York agriculture. There is great opportunity to address the systemic obstacles women, farmers of color, and other underserved farmers face to enter farming, particularly in finding farmland. Through programs like Farmland for a New Generation New York, a partnership with the state of New York, AFT looks forward to collaborating, listening, and learning alongside leaders from across the state to create this strategic plan to support increased diversity and racial equity in New York agriculture.”