The Department is committed to furthering diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in New York State’s agricultural industry. Members of New York’s historically underrepresented and underserved communities are critical to New York agriculture, working as producers, growers, business owners, and thought leaders. They additionally serve their communities as resource developers, advocates, allies, and other food system stakeholders who are focused on uplifting historically marginalized groups.
Recognizing a diversity of distinct experiences, the Department's DEI outreach efforts aim to build relationships with Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), LGBTQ+, and rural farmers, organizations, and related stakeholders to improve understanding of the unique challenges these communities face. The Department additionally aims to better communicate opportunities in the industry and to develop new resources to support increased access and engagement.
The Department welcomes the opportunity to make new connections with individuals and organizations as staff continue to expand their perspective and Department DEI-related efforts within agriculture.
Over the past several years, Department staff increased visitation to farms and related organizations owned and operated by underrepresented communities with the goal to develop new connections and reignite established relationships. During these visits, the Department witnessed farm operations firsthand, learned about community engagement, and listened to challenges experienced.
Significant accomplishments related to DEI activities include:
- publishing a monthly newsletter of resources (Information & Opportunities) with content dedicated to raising awareness and informing members of historically underserved and underrepresented groups;
- creating an email address for the public to have a means of direct communication with the Department ([email protected]);
- holding monthly Virtually Executive Open Office Hours for individual stakeholders in agriculture to collectively learn more about industry activities and connect with decision-makers;
- engaging in national and state-level relationship-building with several organizations to develop partnerships and opportunities in agriculture for the underserved within New York State; and
- developing the Diversity and Racial Equity Network to build a platform for input and ideas to address opportunities, challenges, and concerns, as well as to drive relationship building and networking; and
- awarding grants for administrators to distribute state funding to socially and economically disadvantaged farmers ($4 million), as well as new and beginning farmers ($1 million).
Looking ahead, the Department will continue to act in support of the long-term sustainability of the full diversity of New York agriculture and related services. Some notable funding in New York State’s FY2024 Budget includes:
- $1,000,000 for initiatives that will help the Department develop a sustainable agricultural leadership pipeline in alignment with long-term workforce development career plans;
- $500,000 for the Equitable Farm Future Initiative;
- $100,000 to bridge the upstate-downstate food network divide;
- $225,000 for Pace University's Food and Farm Business Law Clinic;
- $500,000 for Cornell Small Farms Program;
- $200,000 for the Black Farmers United – New York State organization;
- $50,000 to support established Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences (MANRRS) charters and develop new ones;
- $700,000 for the Farmers’ Market Resiliency grant program;
- $1,000,000 to support Farmnet's wide range of farm and family assistance; and
- $2,325,500 for the Urban Farms and Community Gardens grant programs.