After months of advocacy and negotiations, Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature have agreed to a state budget which offers good news for our farmers, and the future of farming in New York state.
First, AFT and our partners in the Alliance for New York’s Farmland advocated for strong funding for the Farmland Protection Program to help farmers protect their land for future generations, and for the Farmland for a New Generation New York program to provide necessary assistance to help a new generation of farmers find land to establish successful businesses.
In the final state budget, the Farmland Protection Program was funded at $18 million as part of a $300 million Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), and the Farmland for a New Generation New York was funded at $400,000 to strengthen the statewide resource center and support the active network of Regional Navigators available to help farmers find land across the state. AFT is grateful to leaders in the Senate and the Assembly, and to Governor Cuomo for working together to maintain strong funding for these important programs.
Second, New York’s K-12 schools serve meals to 1.7 million schoolchildren every day and increasing the amount of New York grown food purchased by schools to serve to students presents an important new higher-value market opportunity for our farmers while also supporting the health of our children. Last year, Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature established a groundbreaking program to help K-12 schools purchase more fresh, healthy, New York grown food to serve to students.
This year, AFT and our partners in the New York Grown Food for New York Kids coalition successfully advocated to continue funding for the Farm to School grants program and New York Grown reimbursement incentive, complementary programs which help schools purchase and serve more New York grown food to students. Thanks to Governor Cuomo, Assembly Member Donna Lupardo, the new chair of the Assembly agriculture committee, Assembly Member Carrie Woerner, and other legislators, these Farm to School programs and other agricultural programs in this year’s state budget that support farm viability will remain strong.
Finally, record funding was allocated for the Climate Resilient Farming program in the EPF, which helps farmers adopt practices that adapt to and mitigate climate change, and new research and outreach was funded which will help more farmers adopt practices that mitigate climate change in the future. AFT thanks Assembly Member Didi Barrett, Governor Cuomo, Senator Jen Metzger and Senator Rachel May for their leadership in supporting a Hudson Valley Carbon Farming Pilot, expanding the Climate Resilient Farming program, and expanding funding for research to help farmers adopt climate-smart farming practices.
But perhaps most importantly, thank you. None of this would have been possible without New Yorkers calling or writing their state representatives to let them know that these programs, and a strong future for farming in New York, matters to you.
Because of your actions, more farms will be permanently protected, more farmers will receive support in finding land, more schools will be able to purchase and serve healthy New York grown food to students, and New York is now on the pathway to assuming a national leadership role in helping farmers adapt to and mitigate climate change.
Thank you for your engagement and support—we look forward to continuing to work with you for years to come to ensure a strong future for farming in New York!