ALBANY — Farmland for a New Generation New York, coordinated by American Farmland Trust in partnership with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, announces a cohort of 34 new and returning organizations to the statewide network of Regional Navigators. Regional Navigators are land access experts at Cornell Cooperative Extension offices, land trusts and agricultural non-profits who serve as advisors to farmland seekers and landowners across every county in New York state. Regional Navigators provide tailored support to farmers and landowners to connect them with each other and any resources they need to find land or keep their land in farming. They will collectively receive $439,000 in grant awards to support their work.
Launched in October 2018 and funded in the state budget, Farmland for a New Generation New York offers a cohesive suite of information and services for farmers and landowners across the state, including a website that hosts farm, farmer, farm job and event listings; training materials and model documents; the statewide network of Regional Navigators; and a first point of contact with American Farmland Trust’s expert staff. All of these components work together to provide landowners and land seekers crucial one-on-one support throughout the lengthy and complex land transition and access process to ultimately make land available to a new generation of farmers. Within three years, Farmland for a New Generation New York has provided one-on-one support to 3,128 landowners and land seekers, and facilitated 91 matches of farmers to 4,345 acres of land.
Erica Goodman, New York Regional Director, American Farmland Trust, said, “The resiliency of our food system hinges upon having farmers and farmland, and how we work together now to support a new generation of farmers will have lasting impacts for the future of producing food for all New Yorkers. And we are at a pivotal point. With nearly one in three farmers in the state over age 65, it has never been more urgent that we support farmers through the process of transitioning their land, and help the next generation find land to farm. American Farmland Trust is proud of the progress Farmland for a New Generation New York has achieved over the last three years through its partnerships, matching more than 90 farmers with over 4,000 acres of farmland – but we know that this work is far from finished. We look forward to working with an expanded network of Regional Navigators to continue to keep New York land in farming for the farmers of today and of tomorrow.”
New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “New York’s Regional Navigator Program is a critical component of our mission to assist farmers and connect them with the resources they need for success. I’m proud that New York State can support this program, which connects land access experts to farmers across our state to help them find land and keep valuable farmland in production, securing the future of our agricultural industry. I thank American Farmland Trust and Farmland for a New Generation New York for their great partnership in this program, and congratulate the new network of Regional Navigators.”
New York State Senator Michelle Hinchey, Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said, “The future of New York agriculture, a vital component of our economy, food security, and climate mitigation strategy, is largely dependent on helping the next generation of farmers overcome one of the biggest challenges they face — finding affordable farmland. Farmland for a New Generation, and its growing statewide network of Regional Navigators, is doing the critical work of match-making between new farmers seeking land and older farmers planning for the future. I’m proud to have partnered with American Farmland Trust and my colleague Assemblymember Donna Lupardo to secure state funding for this innovative model, and excited to continue our work to protect New York’s agricultural lands and ensure the success of our family farms for years to come.”
New York State Senator Rachel May, Chair of the Legislative Commission on Rural Resources, said, “Farmland for a New Generation New York is an incredible resource for our state. This program continues to innovate and develop solutions for keeping precious farmland in the hands of family and small farms. This next step of connecting farmers to navigators across the state will continue to provide support to new farmers and ensure that the industry is diverse and robust for generations to come.”
New York State Assemblymember Donna Lupardo, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Agriculture, said, “Thanks to Farmland for a New Generation, an expanded network of Regional Navigators will help connect farmers to land, through a variety of needed supports. Their ongoing efforts have resulted in many successful matches, bringing hope for the future of NY agriculture. This partnership with American Farmland Trust, and the Department of Ag & Markets is supported with funding provided in the annual state budget. It is a valuable investment that I will continue to advocate for.”
New York State Assemblymember Carrie Woerner said, “Retaining farmland as farmland in our region is critically important. The events of the last year have emphasized the importance of fresh, local food to our communities. Preserving farmland for the next generation with the thoughtful and practical assistance of Farmland for a New Generation is working now to assure our future food sources.”
Chris Watkins, Director, Cornell Cooperative Extension, said, “Ensuring the availability of farmland for the next generation of New York farmers is critical. We’re proud to work with a strong, statewide network of partners through Farmland for a New Generation New York, coordinated by American Farmland Trust in partnership with the state of New York, land trusts and agricultural organizations, including Cornell Cooperative Extension and CCE Regional Agriculture Teams, to provide technical assistance and support to new farmers looking for land and developing businesses and to farmers who are planning for the future and passing land to a new generation.”
Jon Brown, Director, Food and Beverage Law Clinic, Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University, said, “Successful transition of farmland to the next generation of farmers takes a coordinated, team-based approach – from building trusting relationships between farmers and landowners, to overcoming financial challenges, to establishing sound legal foundations for long-term security, and more. Farmland for a New Generation New York is playing a critical role in meeting these challenges, bringing together many great organizations to provide coordinated support throughout every step of this process. We are proud to provide pro bono legal services to farmers as a part of the growing statewide network of Regional Navigators.”
Lorna Wright, Deputy Executive Director, Genesee Land Trust, said, “We are excited to continue our work with American Farmland Trust and all of the Regional Navigators. Farmland protection is one step in ensuring the future of agriculture and food production in New York. Making the connections between retiring farmer owners and the new farmers is also vital to continuing the legacy of agriculture. Investing in both the natural and human resources that are the foundation of our diverse farm communities is needed to protect our incredibly productive soils, support clean water, and fight climate change for now and future generations.”
To learn more about Farmland for a New Generation New York, and to find a Regional Navigator in your area visit www.nyfarmlandfinder.org/regional-navigators or contact the Farmland for a New Generation New York staff at American Farmland Trust for assistance at 1-844-737-6506.
American Farmland Trust is the only national conservation organization dedicated to protecting farmland, promoting environmentally sound farming practices and keeping farmers on the land. Since 1980, AFT’s innovative work has helped to permanently protect more than 6.5 million acres of farmland and ranchland and led the way for the adoption of conservation practices on millions more. No Farms, No Food. Learn more at www.farmland.org.
–American Farmland Trust