As North Country farmer’s struggle to make ends meet, Sen. Ritchie says state is working to help
Saturday, March 3, 2018 - 5:03 pm

The 2017 Annual Report of the Senate Agriculture Committee, released by the committee’s chair State Senator Patty Ritchie, highlights record funding for agriculture, new programs to secure the future of family farming and new funding to promote New York’s booming, farm-based craft beverage industry.

“In every corner of New York State, agriculture is helping to boost local economies, create jobs and of course, feed hungry consumers,” said Sen. Patty Ritchie. “To ensure that agriculture remains as our state’s leading industry, we need to support the efforts of our hardworking farmers. In 2017, that’s just what the Senate Agriculture Committee did, and I’m pleased to share the results of our efforts through our Annual Report.”

In 2017, the Committee helped to secure—for the third year in a row—record budget funding for agriculture totaling $51 million, reversing $10 million in cuts that were proposed in the Governor’s Executive Budget.

As Chair of the Committee, in 2017 Senator Ritchie also continued her tradition of welcoming agriculture leaders to public committee meetings in an effort to highlight agricultural trends, challenges and opportunities confronting the industry, as well as to raise awareness of the importance of farming to New York’s future. Individuals and groups welcomed to the meetings included FFA members, Cornell University, the American Farmland Trust, NY FarmNet and others.

Other highlights of the report include the following:

• A new law, backed by the committee, that created a “New York State Young Farmers Advisory Board” to identify challenges to meeting a goal of attracting 100,000 beginning farmers nationally—including tens of thousands in New York—over the next decade to secure the future of family farming;

•Support for “F.A.R.M.” camp, a new, Cornell-sponsored, regional training program to provide assistance to new and existing farmers, with a special emphasis on veterans in the North Country;

• Funding for a fourth round of “New Farmer Grant Fund” grants providing financial help to farmers who have been in business for less than 10 years and who are looking to purchase land, buildings or supplies;

• New funding to help promote New York’s growing, farm-based craft beverage industry, including brewers, distillers and cideries;

• Funding for FFA programs that provide students with opportunities to learn about agriculture and develop leadership skills;

• New funding to establish a “Farm-to-Table Trail,” which will help consumers more easily locate local food and drink and help boost the bottom line of farmers;

• Funding to prevent the spread of diseases such as wildlife rabies and eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE); and

• Renewed funding for student loan forgiveness for beginning farmers.

In addition, at the close of 2017, the Agriculture Committee hosted a public hearing at the capital to solicit ideas from farmers and industry representatives on additional ways to help New York agriculture succeed. More than 18 farmers and their representatives—covering a broad expanse of agriculture products, regions and interests—offered testimony on challenges and opportunities for the future of agriculture. Information from the hearing will be used to form future actions and potential legislation affecting New York’s agriculture community.

A copy of the full report can be viewed by visiting Senator Ritchie’s website at https://www.ritchie.nysenate.gov. Those interested in having a copy mailed to them can call (315) 782-3418.