Peconic Land Trust offering $1M for new farmers

Peconic Land Trust and other local organizations held a press conference Friday in Riverhead to announce a new grant to help farmers. (Credit: Nicole Smith)
Peconic Land Trust and other local organizations held a press conference Friday in Riverhead to announce a new grant available to farmers. (Credit: Nicole Smith)

The Peconic Land Trust has announced it’s partnering with several organizations to offer $1 million in grants to help new and transitioning Long Island farmers with their businesses.

The Farmers for the Future grants covers infrastructure and equipment costs. Eligible farmers can receive reimbursements of up to 20 percent, or $25,000, on purchases through the program.

During a press conference Friday at the Long Island Horticultural Research & Extension Center, Peconic Land Trust president John Halsey said the grant is important because farmers are struggling.

“We realized one piece of the puzzle to keep agriculture here is access to capital,” he said.

In order to receive the grant, farmers must have been operating an agriculture or aquaculture business, or a not-for-profit organization, in Nassau or Suffolk counties for less than 10 years.

Other requirements include: creating a new commodity, method of production or new business plan, as well as upgrading equipment or infrastructure to comply with food safety regulations.

Cutchogue farmer Paulette Satur said she believes supporting farmers that are new to the industry is important because start up costs “are immense,” especially due to new food safety standards.

Between 50 and 100 farmers are expected to qualify for the program.

Partners of the grant include: LI Regional Economic Development Council, Suffolk County Planning Commission, the Long Island Farm Bureau, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, Cornell University’s Long Island Horticultural Research and Extension Center, Farm Credit East, Long Island Wine Council and Edible East End.

Augie Ruckdeschel of the Suffolk County Department of Economic Development and Planning said he believes helping new farmers is “extraordinarily important to the future of this industry.”

“We have an aging farming population, so we really need to zero in and target and focus our efforts on finding those next generation of farmers,” he said. “It is one of the main driving forces behind this effort.”

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Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of Augie Ruckdeschel.