Two bills that will make entering into farming easier for people new to the profession, boost business for existing farmers and connect consumers with more New York-grown and produced foods have passed the state Senate.
The first measure, Senate bill 6648, also known as the “Buy From the Backyard Act,” would require state agencies to buy 20 percent of all their food products from producers and processors in New York state. The measure is seen as a way to get more locally grown and produced foods in our state’s hospitals, colleges, offices, prisons and other places, as well as to support local farmers.
Under the second measure, Senate bill 7011-A, the state would be required to develop an inventory of state-owned property that’s prime for agricultural development, making it easier for those new to the industry to access land that’s ready to be farmed. The measure is now headed to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's desk to become law.
“This year we have made great strides in not only strengthening the connection between consumers who are increasingly looking to eat local — and healthy — foods, but also in fostering new opportunities for people who are looking to enter into agriculture careers and produce the nutritious fruits, vegetables and other products people depend on,” said the bills' sponsor, state Sen. Patty Ritchie.
“These measures take us closer to our goals of strengthening New York’s leading industry, and providing a boost for farmers — both new and experienced — across our state.”
As Senate Agriculture Committee Chair, Ritchie has been focused in recent years on making New York-grown and produced foods more accessible to consumers, as well as to encourage state agencies to increase their use.
Providing new farmers with the tools and resources needed to be successful has also been a priority of Ritchie’s, and through her “Young Farmers NY” program, those new to the profession are benefiting from grants, a loan forgiveness program and other incentives that are helping them to begin and strengthen their agribusinesses.