AFT Applauds NY State Budget for Record Allocation to Support Farmers

By A Correspondent
A farm in the Finger Lake region of New York state. (Photo by See1,Do1,Teach1, CC license)

American Farmland Trust (AFT) has applauded New York Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State legislature for passing a final state budget that supports a vibrant future for agriculture across the state.

AFT 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.

“As challenges of climate change, pressures from development, and increasing intergenerational farm transition shape the state’s agricultural landscape, New York continues to safeguard critical resources to support farmers, protect farmland, and create a resilient local food system,” the organization said in a statement.

Since the inception of the New York State Farmland Protection Program in 1992, New York has permanently protected over 100,000 acres of farmland. “AFT thanks the governor and legislature for funding this critical program at $21 million as part of a $400 million Environmental Protection Fund and looks forward to the continued efforts of land trusts working across the state to protect farmland for the future,” the statement added. It also applauded Governor Hochul and the legislature for amending legislation to ensure that Bond Act funding could be used for conservation easements. Because of this language adjustment, the state has made the $150 million allocated to farmland protection in the Bond Act accessible.

The Farmland for a New Generation (FNG-NY) program, coordinated by AFT in partnership with the State of New York and a network of Regional Navigators, has helped nearly 150 farmers find land to farm in New York, while supporting retiring farmers with farm succession planning to keep more than 9,000 acres in production. Celebrating its five-year anniversary, the FNG-NY program has expanded to serve both English- and Spanish-speaking farmers through one-on-one technical assistance and translated written materials. AFT applauds the legislature for securing a strong and vibrant future for our next generation of farmers by increasing funding for FNG-NY to $700,000 in this year’s state budget, a record appropriation that will support both retiring farmers and new and beginning farmers across our state, the statement added.

Mikaela Perry, New York Policy Manager, American Farmland Trust, said, “American Farmland Trust applauds state lawmakers for dedicating funding to proven programs that benefit farmers, farmland, and communities across the state. We especially celebrate the legislature for increasing funding for the Farmland for a New Generation New York program that helps retiring farmers and landowners connect with a diverse new generation of land stewards.”

New York State Senator, Michelle Hinchey, Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said: “New York is an Agriculture State, and the investments we’ve delivered in this year’s budget to protect prime farmland, make land access more equitable for a diverse community of new and beginning farmers, and expand local food access are essential to keeping New York an Agriculture State decades into the future. I thank AFT for championing many of these critical programs and for their strong advocacy to preserve New York farms for the future generations who will grow our food and steward the land.”

Since its founding in 1980, the AFT has helped permanently protect over 7.8 million acres of agricultural lands, advanced environmentally sound farming practices on millions of additional acres and supported thousands of farm families.

Agriculture in New York State is a vital component of the state’s economy and cultural heritage. The state boasts a diverse array of agricultural products, with dairy farming leading the way as the top agricultural sector.

New York is also renowned for its apple orchards, ranking second in the nation for apple production, and its robust grape industry, which supports a thriving wine production sector in regions such as the Finger Lakes and Long Island. Additionally, the state produces significant amounts of vegetables, field crops, and livestock. Beyond economic contributions, New York’s agricultural practices emphasize sustainability and innovation, with many farms incorporating advanced technologies and eco-friendly methods. The integration of agritourism further highlights the importance of agriculture in New York, attracting visitors to experience farm life, local produce, and the scenic landscapes that characterize the state’s rural areas.

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