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2020 Budget: Over $6M to Expand Access to N.Y. Grown Ag Products
New York Ag Connection - 04/15/2019

Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie announced the FY 2020 Enacted Budget includes $6.2 million to expand access to New York agricultural products through the Taste NY program, an increase of $400,000 from FY 2019. The funding will help promote the wide variety of foods and beverages grown and produced in the State, making them readily available and recognizable to New Yorkers and consumers around the globe. The budget also supports the NYS Grown & Certified program by continuing funding for key environmental programs, such as the Agricultural Nonpoint Source Pollution Control Program. These programs assist farmers in participating in the certification program.

"The State's agricultural marketing programs provide our growers and food producers a platform to promote some of the best homegrown and local products in the world," Cuomo said. "These programs are key to helping our farmers and food and beverage businesses connect to new markets and increase sales to grow their business and local economies."

Stewart-Cousins said, "New York is home to a $5 billion agricultural industry that provides jobs for hundreds of thousands of our state's residents. The Senate Majority was proud to make common sense investments to keep our state economy growing. I applaud Senator Jen Metzger, the Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, for her leadership on this critical issue. The Senate Majority will continue to work with our partners in government to invest in our state's agriculture and agritourism industries."

Heastie said, "Every year since becoming speaker, I have had the privilege of traveling across the state and experiencing all that New York has to offer firsthand. From the banks of Long Island to the shores of Lake Erie, New York produces some of the best food and beverages you can find in the country. I am proud that this budget makes investments that will help promote the state's agricultural products and allow our growers and food and beverage producers to showcase their amazing products."

"The agricultural industry is critical to our economy, with farmers providing products that are some of the best in the nation," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "This funding will continue to support farmers and producers to help them promote the great products New York has to offer. We are committed to growing programs like Grown & Certified and Taste NY, and boosting the agricultural economy across New York State."

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball said, "We are grateful for the continued funding of the Taste NY program and support of the programs that serve as the foundation of the NYS Grown & Certified program. The investments made so far have led to increased sales for our participants and increased visibility in the marketplace. We are proud to continue to showcase our farmers and local food and beverage business owners in the State's new Welcome Centers, hundreds of retail stores and farmers' markets across the State, and at high-profile trade shows across the country."

Since it was created in 2013, the Taste NY initiative has seen steady growth. The program reported sales of $1.5 million in 2014 and by 2017 had grown to $16.1 million. The exposure from Taste NY has helped the farms and companies participating in the program to reach more customers, increase online sales, and expand processing capacity. Taste NY's food and beverage businesses also support the State's farmers by using New York grown and produced ingredients in their products.

In the past year, six new Taste NY Markets opened in the North Country, Adirondacks, Finger Lakes, Western New York, Hudson Valley/Catskills and Capital Region Welcome Centers. In 2018, the Department also coordinated with other state agencies on Taste NY locations at five newly revitalized train stations and airports across the State, including the Syracuse Hancock International Airport, Greater Rochester Airport, Plattsburgh International Airport and Elmira Corning Regional Airport. Additionally, the Department hosted five regional Business-to-Business Taste NY Networking events to help connect New York farms, food and beverage businesses with buyers from institutions, retail locations, restaurants, bars and distributors.

To help meet the growing consumer demand for local foods grown or produced to a higher standard, Governor Cuomo launched NYS Grown & Certified in 2016. The program certifies New York State producers--from fruits and vegetables to dairy and maple--who adhere to high food safety and environmental stewardship standards. The program is supported by a marketing campaign including on-product labels, promotional materials and sales materials. NYS Grown & Certified also sponsored several print publications and a television and digital marketing campaign in 2018. Currently, more than 2,450 producers are participating in New York State Grown & Certified, representing over 530,000 acres of farmland. In addition, 13 large retailers and distributors participate in the program, selling product from NYS Grown & Certified participants, at over 680 retail locations.

Senator Jen Metzger, chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said, "As Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I am thrilled that Taste NY and NYS Grown & Certified have received necessary support in the 2019-2020 budget to continue their successful programs to promote the bounty of high-quality agricultural products grown and produced in New York, mainly on small and family-owned farms. I am also very pleased that the budget funds a wide range of local environmental projects including $4.5 million for the Climate Resilient Farming Grant Program and $400,000 for the Carbon Farming Pilot Program. The agriculture community is on the front lines of climate impacts and plays a critical role in addressing and mitigating greenhouse gas emissions."

Assemblymember Donna Lupardo, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Agriculture said, "The commitment to agricultural marketing through programs like Taste NY and NY Grown and Certified has been a real game changer for NY producers. These consumer driven initiatives satisfy the demand for high quality food that is safe and grown responsibly. It also promotes a pride in NY growers and producers allowing them to showcase their products in numerous venues. I have witnessed at our local farmers markets and Taste NY stores the satisfaction that comes from purchasing high quality food made by fellow New Yorkers."

In addition to the funding allocated for Taste NY and in support of New York State Grown & Certified, the Enacted 2020 Budget includes a total of $33.2 million for local assistance to support core agricultural programs that focus on education, research and the development of the industry. The Budget provides $300 million for the Environmental Protection Fund, which funds agricultural environmental programs, including $18 million for Farmland Protection, $18 million for the Agricultural Nonpoint Source Pollution Control Program, $10.5 million for Soil and Water Conservation Districts and $4.5 million for the Climate Resilient Farms Program. The Enacted 2020 Budget also includes $2.5 million in capital funding for the New York State Fair.

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