September 27, 2023

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets today announced that program administrators for the $4 million Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Farmers Grant Program and for the $1 million Beginning Farmers Grant Program have been chosen. The Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust (NEFOC) and its fiscal sponsor, Resist Inc. will administer the Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Farmers Grant Program, and the New York Farm Viability Institute (NYFVI) will administer the Beginning Farmers Grant Program. These programs will support New York farmers who are new to the field or who face disproportionate social or economic barriers to success. Funding for the programs builds on the State’s work to expand opportunities in agriculture to more New Yorkers.

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “We are pleased to have awarded NEFOC Land Trust, in collaboration with Resist Inc., and NYFVI the opportunity to administer these two important funds. Working in coordination with these organizations, the Department is proud to be providing needed resources for farmers who may be just getting started in the industry or those who have faced challenges in making a career in agriculture because of social or economic disparities. We support all farmers and producers, and these programs are a step forward in our work to ensure equity in agriculture.”

The $4 million Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Farmers Grant Program was funded in the 2022-2023 New York State Budget to assist farmers who face disproportionate social or economic barriers to success. NEFOC, with its fiscal sponsor Resist, Inc., was awarded the contract to manage this fund, which will accept proposals for grants ranging from $5,000 to $250,000 from eligible farmers. NEFOC’s overarching goal is to reshape root causes and systems that marginalize our communities, acting for a future of food and land sovereignty in the Northeast region through permanent and secure land tenure. Resist Inc., as a non-profit grant-making organization, and through its project Movement Sustainability Commons, works to support groups working for equality and economic democracy.

Socially disadvantaged individuals include those who have been subject to discrimination due to their race or ethnicity, including those who identify as Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Hispanic or Latino, and Asian or Pacific Islander. Economically disadvantaged farmers include individuals whose farming opportunities have been hindered due to diminished capital, credit opportunities, or access to land, among other things, as compared to other similarly situated individuals who are not socially disadvantaged and who will operate a farm in New York State. This may include urban farmers.

Additionally, the Department awarded NYFVI as the program administrator for the $1 million Beginning Farmers Grant Program.  NYFVI is a nonprofit grantmaking organization that works to help New York farmers become more profitable and improve the long-term economic viability and sustainability of the state’s farms and the food system. Grants of $5,000 to $250,000 will be awarded on a competitive basis to farmers who have not operated a farm for more than ten years, and who will operate a farm in New York State. This may include urban farmers. Grants will be awarded to start up, improve or expand a farm operation; provide worker or apprenticeship training; purchase agricultural land, infrastructure, equipment, or livestock; and more.

Program administrators will offer the grant opportunity directly to farmers. These will be developed in the coming months with the Department and the grants availability will be announced. 

Seth Kirshenbaum, Co-Director, Movement Sustainability Commons at Resist, Inc., said, “Resist is committed to supporting organizations like NEFOC at the forefront of mobilizing resources and opportunities into communities to which we are accountable.”

Christine Hutchinson, Black Land Stewardship Cultivation Co-Director, Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust, said, “NEFOC is excited to build and sustain novel directions in access to capital for farmers. Our organization is deeply rooted in communities of Socially and Economically Disadvantaged farmers in NY. Thus, we are uniquely positioned to lead new solutions to disburse funds effectively into the hands of these farmers. With our collaboration, experience, and leveraging our key partnerships, farmers will benefit equitably from this grant program that results in the betterment of agriculture in New York.”

David Grusenmeyer, Executive Director of New York Farm Viability Institute, said, “NYFVI’s all-farmer board of directors and staff are privileged to be selected by the Department of Agriculture and Markets to administer New York’s Beginning Farmer Competitive Grant Program.  Agriculture can be a challenging business to be in at any stage, particularly for beginning farmers.  Traditionally NYFVI has funded research and demonstration projects to help all farmers operate more efficiently and profitably.  We are excited for this new opportunity to provide assistance targeted at helping this group of farmers who may need additional support.”

Both the Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Farmers Grant Program and the Beginning Farmers Grant Program aim to expand opportunities to farmers who are less likely to enter or succeed in the field, whether due to lack of experience, inability to access resources, or social and economic discrimination. Opening doors to all farmers is a critical step in ensuring a strong, diverse, and well-supported agricultural future for New York.

These programs build on the Department’s work to make farming more accessible for all New Yorkers, including funding in last year’s budget for Black Farmers United – New York State and Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences, or MANRRS. Further, the Strategic Interagency Task Force Lessening Obstacles to Agriculture Working Group (SILO), chaired by Commissioner Richard Ball, held its third meeting earlier this month to discuss how to improve the industry and remove barriers to agriculture for key groups.

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