Grant Program Gives Beginning Growers Boost In New York

Applications are open for 2016 New Farmers Grant Fund Program and New York State Young Farmers Loan Forgiveness Program.

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“Farming remains an important industry in New York and an essential part of this state’s economy,” Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York, 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.”

Cuomo announced the $1 million in funding 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.

“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,” Dean Norton, New York Farm Bureau president, said.
The $1 million New Farmers Grant Fund will provide grants of up to 50% of total project costs. Funds may provide a minimum of $15,000 and maximum of $50,000 for up to 50% of project costs with the remaining 50% 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 deadline for submission is Jan. 22, 2016.

“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,” Richard A. Ball, New York State Agriculture Commissioner, said. “We look forward to providing a boost to our next generation farmers and bridging the gap of resources needed to help build the future of agriculture across the state.”

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 deadline for submission is Dec. 1.

“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,” Elsa Magee, New York State Higher Education Services Corporation acting president, said.