State Budget Offers Good News for Farmers Looking to Find and Protect Land in New York

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.–  American Farmland Trust, the organization behind the national movement No Farms No Food®, and the Alliance for New York’s Farmland applaud Governor Cuomo and leaders in the State Senate and Assembly for working to adopt a New York State Budget that offers good news for a new generation of farmers looking for farmland and for farmers seeking to protect their land for future generations.

The state budget includes $18 million for Farmland Protection as part of a $300 million Environmental Protection Fund, and $400,000 in funding for Farmland for a New Generation New York, a statewide program comprised of a Resource Center (www.nyfarmlandfinder.org) and an active network of Regional Navigators available to help farmers find land to farm in the state of New York.

“We appreciate the strong leadership of Senator Jen Metzger and Assembly Member Donna Lupardo, the new Agriculture Committee chairs, Senator Rachel May, the new chair of the Legislative Commission on Rural Resources, and Assembly Member Carrie Woerner in fighting to keep funding for Farmland for a New Generation New York,” said Samantha Levy, New York policy manager for American Farmland Trust. “We also applaud Governor Cuomo and our state lawmakers’ continued commitment to funding the Farmland Protection Program. These funds will help farmers reinvest in their family businesses while aiding retiring farmers in transitioning their land to the next generation.”

Levy continued, “the massive transition of farmland that will be taking place over the next decade as senior farmers retire and the barriers our next generation faces in securing land and succeeding in farming are monumental challenges. We greatly appreciate having a governor and state lawmakers who understand the magnitude of these challenges and the value of the proactive approach of funding a strong Farmland Protection Program alongside a program that helps farmers successfully find and transfer land. This confirms New York state’s leadership in ensuring a strong future for farming and growing food.”

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “Thanks to the Governor’s historic funding commitment to agriculture and to our partners in the Legislature, we have a strong budget for the agricultural community that includes critical resources for farmland protection.  By supporting the preservation of our farms and our open space, we can ensure that our existing and future farmers can continue New York’s legacy of producing some of the best food and beverage products in the nation.”

State Senator Jen Metzger, 42nd district and chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee said, “I was very glad to work with my colleagues in the Senate, my counterpart in the Assembly, Donna Lupardo, and the Governor’s office to protect New York’s farmland and support programs to develop the next generation of farmers and agricultural producers. New York farms are an integral part of our economy, rural heritage and culture, providing food security and critical stewardship of the land. These programs will help to ensure that our agricultural lands remain in production in New York for generations to come and that our agricultural economy–consisting primarily of small and family-owned farms–remains vibrant.”

State Senator Rachel May, 53rd district and chair of Legislative Commission on Rural Resources said, “As the Senator from the 53rd District, I represent a diverse region of large and small cities, suburbs and villages, and rural areas. Within this district, there are both food deserts and vibrant farms. Food insecurity is a major issue, and one of the best steps we can take to remedy it is to invest in local food, from local farms, to meet local needs. My colleagues and I fought to secure funding for these vital agricultural programs that help keep farmland in farming hands. I am excited about helping a new generation of farmers develop the expertise they need to succeed. New York state’s investment in the American Farmland Trust’s Farmland for a New Generation New York will benefit us long into the future.”

State Assembly Member Donna Lupardo, 123rd district and chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee said, “Agriculture has always been a cornerstone of the state’s economy, and it’s important that we continue to make investments that reflect this role. In working with the industry and my colleagues in the Legislature, we were able to secure funding that will help preserve prime farmland and keep acreage in production for years to come. This is especially important as senior farmers approach retirement over the next several years. In order to ensure that consumers have access to fresh, local foods we have to invest in the small farm businesses that produce them. I appreciate American Farmland Trust’s strong advocacy on behalf of New York’s farms.”

State Assembly Member Carrie Woerner, 113th district said, “I was very pleased to see that funding for Farmland for a New Generation was once again included in the final version of the budget. American Farmland Trust’s leadership in connecting aspiring farmers with viable agricultural land is not only commendable but critical to maintaining the strength of our agricultural industry. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to advocate on behalf of our farm families to ensure that viable agricultural land stays in the hands of farmers.”

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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 millions of additional acres and supported thousands of farm families.