Good News for Farmers Looking for Land in N.Y.

The recently adopted 2018-19 New York State budget offers good news for a new generation of farmers looking for farmland in New York. The budget includes funding to create the “Farmland for a New Generation Program,” which will help aspiring farmers find land to farm anywhere in the state.

Based on a successful model in the Hudson Valley, the Farmland for a New Generation Program will enable American Farmland Trust to develop a statewide Farmland for a New Generation Resource Center for farmland owners and farmers seeking land. The program will also support a statewide network of Regional Navigators within Cornell Cooperative Extension, land trusts and agricultural organizations. These experts will provide one-on-one assistance to farmers looking for land and for farmland owners seeking to make farmland available for farming or transfer their land to the next generation.

“We greatly appreciate the strong leadership of Senator Pamela Helming, chair of the Legislative Commission on Rural Resources, Agriculture Committee Chairs Senator Patty Ritchie and Assemblymember Bill Magee, Assemblymember Carrie Woerner, and Governor Cuomo for ensuring that critical funding was allocated to help aspiring farmers overcome one of the greatest barriers they face in New York – finding land,” said Samantha Levy, New York policy manager at American Farmland Trust. “There are fewer young farmers in New York than there were a decade ago. This funding is critical to ensure a strong future for farming and growing food in New York.”

Senator Pamela Helming, Chair of the Legislative Commission on Rural Resources said, “As Senate Chair of the Legislative Commission on Rural Resources, I have made protecting our beautiful farmland and ensuring that it remains in agricultural production one of my main priorities. In this year’s New York State budget, we were able to secure new funds for the Farmland for a New Generation program. This program will help connect new farmers to available farmland with the support of American Farmland Trust and Cornell Cooperative Extension. I am excited to see how both the Resource Center and the Regional Navigators will help a new generation of farmers keep our farmland in production as more and more farmers retire. Farming is a vital and fundamental part of our rural communities, and it is crucial that we continue to support the production of fresh New York-grown foods. The Farmland for a New Generation program is important to the future of agriculture, and I will continue my efforts to support New York’s farmers.”

 Senator Patty Ritchie, Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee said, “The future of New York’s agriculture industry depends on its next generation of farmers. In order to foster growth and future success, we must ensure young farmers have access to suitable land to start, and potentially expand their operations. American Farmland Trust’s ‘Farmland for the Next Generation’ program can help young farmers do just that, and I look forward to seeing how it helps strengthen New York’s leading industry.”

Assemblymember Bill Magee, Chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee said, “The lack of affordable farmland can be a major barrier for New Yorkers looking to start a farm business. The Farmland for a New Generation program will improve access to farmland and help farmers without successors transfer their land to hardworking entrepreneurs, which will enable New York farms to continue producing fresh, healthy food.”

Assemblymember Carrie Woerner said, “Agriculture is truly the backbone of New York State’s economy, and helping existing and new farmers sell and acquire land is critical to the industry’s continued success. I am proud that this year, the legislature included funding in the state budget for the Farmland for a New Generation Program, which will do just that. I have partnered with the American Farmland Trust to fight for this funding for the past several years, and their strong advocacy helped ensure that all of my colleagues in the state legislature understood the importance of supporting the Farmland for a New Generation Program.”

 State Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball said, “The foundation of a strong agricultural industry is high-quality farmland and here in New York, we have some of the most nutrient-rich land ideal for growing. Governor Cuomo has made it a priority to preserve those properties for farming as more and more of it is lost to competing land uses.  Working together with our legislative leaders, the Governor has reinvigorated the farmland protection program, which has permanently safeguarded dozens of properties.  This new program will continue to build on that effort by linking farmers to available land and paving the way for the next generation to move our industry forward.”

Julie C. Suarez, Associate Dean, Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences said, “Cornell CALS has seen a remarkable growth in our agricultural sciences-based majors from students with both rural and urban backgrounds, and sees increasing interest in farming from people embarking on second careers such as our returning veterans. It is heartening to see the next generation’s passion for the local food movement as we tackle significant challenges in climate change, profitability, and population trends. As New York’s land grant institution, we know first-hand that careers in farming, food and nutrition are truly life-changing. Land access and availability is a key issue for our graduating students and second career farmers.  Cornell CALS and our Cornell Cooperative Extension system is pleased to partner with American Farmland Trust to focus on one of our main goals: ensuring that the next generation of farmers is poised to feed all of our families.”

Chris Wayne, FARMroots Director, GrowNYC said, “All beginning farmers, and especially those from socially disadvantaged backgrounds, face great barriers to accessing farmland that is affordable, appropriate for their enterprise, and within close proximity to markets. The type of one-on-one technical assistance to be offered by the Farmland for a New Generation Program is essential to overcoming these challenges. GrowNYC applauds the leadership of the American Farmland Trust and the New York State legislature in launching this exciting new program.”