Submitted by Elizabeth Mooney on Wed, 2012-02-15 20:15.
NYLCV and our partners at American Farmland Trust took Albany by storm on Wednesday to press for continuation of programs that support agriculture and farmland -- two vital but threatened components of New York's economy.
Farmers manage a quarter of the state's 28 million acres, but New York is losing a farm to development twice a week, a cumulative loss of 500,000 acres over the past quarter-century. At the same time, demand for locally produced agricultural products is growing.
In its "No Farms, No Food" initiative, AFT offered legislators its "top 10" list of ways to improve the prospects for farming and agricultural land in the state. Its recommendations include these:
- Sustain $134 million for the Environmental Protection Fund, including $12 million for the Farmland Protection Program and $13 million for the Agricultural Nonpoint Source Program.
- Use Empire State Development Corp. loans, loan guarantees and grants to build, expand and rehabilitate wholesale regional farmers' markets.
- Require state agencies to buy 20 percent of their food from in-state producers and processors, as identified by the state Commissioner of Agriculture.
Farms are an important part of NYLCV's 2012 State Policy Agenda, which calls for new sources of farmland protection revenues and the expansion of farmers markets.