HUDSON, N.Y. — Hudson Valley AgriBusiness Development Corporation (HVADC) and the Farm and Food Growth Fund (FFGF), two agriculture advocacy groups, have joined a national effort petitioning the leadership of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees calling for dedicated funding for business technical assistance (BTA) and farm viability funding in the upcoming Farm Bill.
In efforts led by American Farmland Trust (AFT) and the Agricultural Viability Alliance (the Alliance), a national coalition of 135 agricultural organizations, service providers, non-profits, businesses, lending institutions, and government entities sent a letter last week to the committees’ leaderships, saying “As you begin the process of developing a new Farm Bill,” the groups write in the letter, “[we] urge you to include dedicated funding for one-to-one business technical assistance (BTA) for small and midsized farm and food businesses. These investments in farm viability are critical to achieving a more just, secure, resilient food supply chain, growing our rural economies, and helping farmers and food businesses weather periods of uncertainty, high input costs, and market disruptions.”
“Having the ability to offer BTA to farmers insures that agriculture can be a viable work path for future generations in our region,” said Todd Erling, HVADC Executive Director. Erling is also an Executive Committee Member of the Agricultural Viability Alliance and chairs its Policy Committee.
Both HVADC and its affiliate program the Farm and Food Growth Fund provide BTA services. HVADC has been working with farmers through its Incubator Without Walls program since 2008, and has since assisted over 290 businesses with a wide range of individualized services.
“By providing BTA to farmers, we are able to encourage entrepreneurship, create jobs, strengthen our rural communities, address historic inequities and help underserved farmers thrive, and build a more resilient regional food system,” Erling continued.
BTA covers a wide range of one-to-one services offered to farm and food businesses by nonprofit organizations such as HVADC, state agencies, private consultants, and extension services. Customized to meet the unique needs of individual businesses, these services include coaching, skill development, and planning related to financial and labor management, marketing and business strategies, farm transfer and succession, and access to land and capital. BTA has proven effective at creating jobs and supporting local economies. This work is also critical to addressing historic and systemic barriers facing farmers and food entrepreneurs of color, who have been structurally denied opportunities to access capital, land, technical support, USDA programs, and broader professional advancement for generations.
The call for dedicated Farm Bill funding builds on work that AFT in partnership with the Alliance began in 2021 requesting USDA to set aside a portion of Coronavirus relief funding for one-to-one business technical assistance. At that time, more than 110 organizations joined AFT and the Alliance in urging the USDA to prioritize BTA for small and mid-sized farm and food businesses. In addition, 50 Members of Congress similarly encouraged USDA to support BTA. USDA responded to that request with its establishment of two initiatives: the Farm Service Agency’s Increasing Land, Capital, and Market Access Program, and the Agricultural Marketing Service’s Regional Food Business Centers.
Though funding is yet to be awarded, both programs rely upon ad hoc, one-time funding. Last week’s letter directed to the Agriculture Committees urged that the Farm Bill include dedicated funding for BTA in the form of multi-year grants to public and NGO agricultural service providers.
New York has representation on both Agriculture Committees, with Senator Kristen Gillibrand siting on the Senate committee and from the Hudson Valley, Representative Marc Molinaro (NY-19) on the Congressional committee.
Other Hudson Valley-based groups signing the letter include Cornell Cooperative Extension Capital Area Agricultural and Horticultural Program, Dirt Capital Partners, the Glynwood Center for Regional Food and Farming; the law firm of Harris-Pero & Botelho, PPLC; the North East /Millerton Climate Smart Community Task Force, and the National Young Farmers Coalition.
The HVADC is the region’s sole economic development agency with a specific focus on the viability of the agricultural economy in the Hudson Valley. It assists both new and existing agri-businesses such as farms, food businesses and food distributors, by providing technical and business consultation and resources. The non-profit promotes balanced, market-based solutions that lead to enhanced agricultural entrepreneurship, rural economic growth and community enhancement. For more information, please visit: www.Hvadc.org.
About the Farm and Food Growth Fund
The Farm and Food Growth Fund (FFGF) expands upon the enterprise-focused services of its affiliate organization the HVADC, both geographically, and in its emphasis on creating greater support for the underserved individuals, families and communities involved in agriculture and food production within the Northeast Foodshed area. Throughout its geographic footprint covering the greater Hudson Valley area of New York, western Connecticut, western Massachusetts, southern Vermont and eastern Pennsylvania, the FFGF has a special interest in creating employment, workforce skills, community revitalization, safe affordable housing and capital access opportunities for low- and moderate-income populations participating in farm and food-related industries. For more information, visit https://www.ffgrowthfund.org
Contact: Todd Erling
–Hudson Valley AgriBusiness Development Corporation