Governor Cuomo announced the release of program criteria for the $25 million Southern Tier Agricultural Industry Enhancement Program. The eligibility requirements are now available online at www.agriculture.ny.gov. The program will provide crucial funding for projects designed to help farms and agribusinesses expand and grow their operations, as well as increase environmental enhancements in Allegany, Broome, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, Chenango, Delaware, Schuyler, Steuben, Tompkins and Tioga counties. Applications will be available beginning January 19, 2016.
“New York’s agriculture industry is an economic engine in upstate communities – driving growth and expanding opportunity,” Governor Cuomo said. “I’m proud to announce $25 million in State funding for the Agriculture Industry Enhancement Program which will provide vital support to all farmers and agribusinesses in the Southern Tier and keep New York’s agricultural economy growing.”
Eligible projects will increase agricultural production on farms and improve profitability, as well as support farmers in better managing and enhancing environmental resources. Projects that are awarded State funding may receive up to $100,000 to help with expenses associated with construction, renovation, irrigation, drainage, environmental enhancements, fencing, trellis systems and greenhouses. Eligible applicants that demonstrate an exemplary commitment to protecting or enhancing natural resources, may also be entitled to an additional $10,000 toward their project.
The Department of Agriculture and Markets will work in coordination with the County Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD) to administer the program. The SWCDs will pre-qualify projects and oversee the implementation of awards. Awards will be made on a semi-annual basis for a period of two years or until funding is depleted. Applications will be available and filed locally through each respective county SWCD. To find a list of the SWCDs, click here.
Applicants must meet the Department’s definition of a farm operation and meet additional criteria as outlined in the program criteria, including participation in the New York State Agricultural Environmental Management program within the past three years, or a commitment to participate in the program prior to being awarded.
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “The Governor’s targeted initiative to invest in this 11-county area is a big win for agriculture, and we’re excited to provide applicants the details of the program and begin to accept their proposals in a few weeks. The funding being made available will have a significant impact on the future success of many farms and agribusinesses that are looking to increase production as well as their environmental sustainability.”
Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Senator Patty Ritchie said, “Preserving our State’s farmland is so important to ensuring New York’s agriculture industry has the room it needs to thrive and grow. I’m pleased that farmers and agribusiness owners will soon be able to take advantage of this special program, which will not only provide them with the support they need to make their operations more successful, but also will help them to enhance their land’s environmental protections.”
Assembly Agriculture Committee Chair Assemblyman Bill Magee said, “The funding for farms and farm businesses announced by Governor Cuomo today will encourage sustainable growth, giving farmers in the 11-county area an opportunity to invest in the protection of farmland and natural resources, while enhancing increased agricultural production in the Southern Tier.”
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