New York giving $1.5 million for fruit and vegetable farmers
$1.5 million is available through the Environmental Protection Fund to help farms implement an Agricultural Environmental Management plan, and a reimbursement of up to $1,000 is available for growers who participate in a third party audit of safe food handling practices.
Farmers must participate in programs supporting good agricultural practices and environmental management to be eligible for New York State Grown & Certified, and this funding will help more farms join the certification program.
"New York farms produce world-renowned, high-quality food, and the New York State Grown & Certified program strengthens the link between producers and consumers and promotes environmentally sustainable and safe practices," Governor Cuomo said.
Launched in August, the New York State Grown & Certified program assures consumers that the food they are buying is local and produced to a higher standard by requiring participating producers to adopt good agricultural practices and enroll in an environmental management program.
Administered through the United States Department of Agriculture, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Good Agricultural Practices program verifies that safe food handling practices are being used on farms, from growing and harvesting to packaging and handling.
The Good Agricultural Practices program certifies the fresh fruit and vegetable farms that have implemented the necessary steps in their operations to minimize the possibility of product contamination and food-borne illness in accordance with USDA regulations.
The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, through a USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant, is providing up to $1,000 to reimburse farms for Good Agricultural Practices audits.
More information about the Good Agricultural Practices certification process and how to apply for the grant is available on the new website. The Department has conducted 234 audits in 2016 so far, already exceeding last year’s total number of audits.
Cornell University is a key partner in training and education for farmers as part of the program.
The university holds online courses and in-person training throughout the year to help producers learn about the program and write their own safe food handling farm plan prior to the third-party audit. ■