Albany, N.Y., March 13, 2013—Participants in American Farmland Trust’s fourth annual No Farms No Food® Rally urged Governor Cuomo and state legislators to protect farmland from development, aid the next generation of farmers in accessing land, and encourage state institutions—such as colleges, hospitals, and emergency food providers—to buy food that is grown in New York.
“Buying food grown in New York is good for our economy, the health of New Yorkers and the environment,” said American Farmland Trust New York State Director David Haight. “Yet food comes from farmland, and we have lost far too many farms to real estate development in New York. As we say, ‘No Farms, No Food.’”
New York’s farmland forms the backbone of its growing farm and food economy, yet the state has lost a significant amount of farmland to real estate development. According to data from the United States Department of Agriculture, between 1982 and 2007, nearly half a million acres of New York farmland or roughly 4,500 median-sized farms were paved over.
More than 100 No Farms No Food Rally participants met with 80 state legislators to advocate for funding increases proposed for the state’s Environmental Protection Fund and the Farmland Protection Program. The group also supported legislation that will encourage state agencies to buy more food grown in New York State as well as help the next generation of farmers get access to farmland.
A number of New York officials spoke to the group about the importance of agriculture, protecting farmland and expanding access to healthy food grown in New York. Speakers included: Darrel Aubertine, commissioner of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets; Senator Patty Ritchie, chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee; Assemblyman Bill Magee, chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee; Assemblyperson Crystal Peoples-Stokes; Assemblyperson Ellen Jaffee, chair of the Assembly Task Force on Food, Farm and Nutrition Policy; and First Deputy Comptroller Pete Grannis from the Office of the New York State Comptroller.
Rally participants urged lawmakers to support Governor Cuomo’s $1 million increase in funding for the state’s Farmland Protection Program, and to work with the state Department of Agriculture and Markets to solicit new applications for farmland protection projects in the upcoming fiscal year. Farms recently protected through the program include:
• Domino Farm in the Town of Rochester (August 2012)
• Totino Farm in Suffolk County (Sept 2012)
• Zaweski Farm in Suffolk County (Oct 2012)
• Lew-Lin farm in the Town of Dryden (Oct 2012)
• Sunset Ridge Farm in Dutchess County (Oct 2012)
• Bos Haven Farm in Dutchess County (Nov 2012)
• Gulliver Farm in the Town of Fleming (Dec 2012)
“One of the biggest challenges facing new farmers is finding productive farmland that is affordable,” Haight explained. “The state of New York can help new farmers by making long-term commitments to use state-owned farmland for farming, with special consideration for beginning farmers. Greater institutional purchasing of food grown in New York would offer substantial economic development opportunities for farmers and food businesses. ”
Each year, the No Farms No Food Rally brings together farmers, local foods advocates, land trusts and community leaders from across New York to support farms and access to locally grown food. The 2013 Rally was held on March 13 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. in the 3rd Floor Terrace Legislative Office Building. More information is available at http://newyork.farmland.org/no-farms-no-food.