ALBANY — This statement can be attributed to Mikaela Ruiz-Ramón, New York Policy Coordinator for American Farmland Trust:
“American Farmland Trust (AFT) applauds Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Senate and Assembly for delivering a state budget that supports and expands key programs for farmers with benefits for all New Yorkers. New York faces increased development pressure on farmland, impacts from climate change and extreme weather, and a wide-scale intergenerational transition of farmland that places a quarter of New York’s farmland at risk of being lost forever. This year’s state budget will preserve more of the farmland that New Yorkers rely on to grow food and support resilient local food supply chains, build more equity into the agricultural industry, and empower more farmers to combat climate change to meet the goals of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.
Farmland protection plays a critical role in making land accessible and affordable for the next generation of farmers and works hand in hand with the Farmland for a New Generation Program (FNG-NY) to bring a new generation onto the land. AFT applauds the Governor and the legislature for increasing funding for the farmland protection program to $21 million as part of an historic expansion of the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) in this year’s state budget, and for expanding and reauthorizing a $4.2 billion Environmental Bond Act. If passed by voters in November, this bond act represents a once-in-a-generation investment to address the climate crisis, including by dedicating at least $150 million in funding for permanent farmland protection.
AFT commends the legislature—including the leadership of Senator Michelle Hinchey, Senator Rachel May, Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, and Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner—for securing a strong and vibrant future for our next generation of farmers by maintaining funding for FNG-NY to $500,000. AFT celebrates the legislatures’ work to include $5 million to provide grants to beginning and historically marginalized, yet resilient, farmers. These are important steps towards justice, addressing the major challenges BIPOC and other historically resilient farmers face in growing successful farm businesses in the state.
AFT also applauds a near tripling of funding for the Climate Resilient Farming Grants program and increases for Soil and Water Conservation Districts in the EPF to help support farmers in improving soil health and combating climate change.
Finally, AFT thanks the Governor and legislature for sustaining investments in New York’s Farm to School programs, including $10 million for the Farm to School Reimbursement Program and $1.5 million for the Grants Program, to help schools buy more local food and build resilient local food systems.
AFT celebrates the leadership of Governor Hochul, the Senate, and the Assembly for investments that will continue to provide New York farmers with the support they need to feed us and protect and steward New York’s working lands for generations to come.”
About AFT: American Farmland Trust is the only national organization that takes a holistic approach to agriculture, focusing on the land itself, the agricultural practices used on that land, and the farmers and ranchers who do the work. AFT launched the conservation agriculture movement and continues to raise public awareness through our No Farms, No Food message. Since our founding in 1980, AFT has helped permanently protect over 6.8 million acres of agricultural lands, advanced environmentally-sound farming practices on millions of additional acres and supported thousands of farm families.
–American Farmland Trust