SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed 2017-18 Executive Budget, released on January 17, 2017, made important commitments to New York’s farmers, farmland and environment.
“American Farmland Trust was encouraged to see that Governor Cuomo proposed to keep the Environmental Protection Fund at its high-point in annual funding of $300 million, including $20 million for the state’s Farmland Protection Program,” said David Haight, New York State Director of American Farmland Trust, a national organization that works to protect farmland and keep it in farming.
“We look forward to working with Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature to make New York a national leader in state investments that protect the farmland needed to grow our food and economy and to ensure that projects awarded grants from the Farmland Protection Program are consistently completed in less than two years,” Haight added.
Governor Cuomo’s budget also proposed critical funding to help farmers protect drinking water and healthy soil and respond to climate change. It also allocated needed funds to help New York residents access locally grown food.
“We appreciate Governor Cuomo’s proposal for $750,000 in Farm to School grants to increase sales of locally grown fruits, vegetables, meats, milk and other foods to schools,” said Haight. “With more than 1.7 million children receiving school lunch and hundreds of millions of dollars spent annually by schools in New York to purchase food, there is a significant opportunity to utilize these grant funds and other purchasing incentives to greatly improve the health of our children and farm economy.”
An issue that demands more attention by the State of New York is the need to take action to bring a new generation of farmers onto the land. More than 10,000 farmers over the age of 65 are poised to retire in coming years, and new farmers struggle to find farmland under conditions that enable them to succeed. “Working with partners, we’ve helped more than 100 farmers find land in the Hudson Valley over the last two years. We look forward to working with Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature to address these challenges across New York,” Haight added.
–American Farmland Trust
For more articles out of New York, click here.