Maloney Announces New Legislation to Help Beginning Hudson Valley Farmers
Cornwall, NY – Following a roundtable with Hudson Valley farmers at Soons Orchard in April and extensive discussion with his agricultural advisory board, Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) announced new legislation to help beginning farmers. The Beginning Farmer Agenda Act is a comprehensive approach to supporting the next generation of farmers. This bill would invest in land conservation to help new farmers acquire land, add new resources for farmers at USDA and invest in the development of local and regional food systems.
“Our hardworking farmers create thousands of jobs and bring back over one hundred million dollars a year to our Hudson Valley economy,” said Rep. Maloney, Member of the House Agriculture Committee. “We need the next generation to power this incredible economic engine, but too often beginning farmers are feeling shut out – they deserve a government that is willing to be their partner. Working together to give our young and beginning farmers the tools they need to succeed, we can continue to grow local foods and jobs while powering our local economy for generations to come.”
“Congressman Maloney has been a relentless advocate for the Hudson Valley’s agriculture community since day one,” said Assemblyman James Skoufis. “New farmers in their 20s and 30s often face significant, if not impossible, financial challenges to beginning a career in agriculture; Congressman Maloney’s legislation is critical to assisting our next generation of farmers develop their careers, preserve open space, and feed the millions of people in our region.”
Rep. Maloney has heard from young farmers, especially in the Hudson Valley, that they are struggling to get access to the land, resources and markets. According to the most recent census data, Agriculture showed a 4.3% decline in the number of principal farmers compared with 2007. The report also found that the average age of principal farmers has continued to rise – causing concern amongst key stakeholders that the industry is not attracting enough new entrants to the industry. New York state has lost more than 4,000 farms since the 1980s. Today, less than 5% of farmland statewide is protected. New York’s agricultural industry generates billions of dollars for the state, and creates thousands of jobs. Particularly important in the Hudson Valley, estimates suggest that New York City alone has an unmet demand for locally sourced food of nearly $900m each year.
The Beginning Farmer Agenda Act would:
- Invest in land conservation by making it easier for land trusts to protect farmland, offer capital gains exemptions to farmers that protect their land, and help to speed up the process for beginning farmers to qualify for USDA resources;
- Develop new resources at USDA –like self-service portals and regional coordinators for beginning farmer support, reauthorize the vital beginning farmer and rancher development program, and fund individual development accounts to help farmers save for purchases; and
- Invest in local and regional food systems by funding the farmers market and local food promotion program and helping to support programs that offer resources for farmers.
“We applaud Congressman Maloney's leadership in addressing one of the greatest challenges facing agriculture in New York, and throughout the United States: bringing new and next generation farmers on to the land,” said David Haight, American Farmland Trust's New York State Director. "Nearly 30% of all farmers in New York are over 65 and will be transitioning out of farming in coming years, which puts their land at risk of being paved over by real estate development. At the same time, there is a diverse community of beginning farmers looking to get into farming but needing help in finding farmland and launching successful businesses. Congressman Maloney's Beginning Farmers Agenda Act proposes new and needed policies in advance of the next Farm Bill to protect farmland from development, make farmland more affordable to farmers, strengthen farm viability and help a new generation of farmers succeed in agriculture.”
"In the next Farm Bill, we can rebuild the path for young Americans to succeed in agriculture. We thank Congressman Maloney for listening to Hudson Valley farmers and we look forward to standing with him to win the credit, affordable land, and modern USDA that we need,” said Lindsey Shute, Executive Director, National Young Farmers Coalition.
“Over the past 16 years, GrowNYC has worked to develop the next generation of farmers, focusing specifically on those aspiring growers who have traditionally been left out of agriculture, yet bring critical skills and mirror the diversity of NYC,” says GrowNYC Executive Director Marcel Van Ooyen. “We applaud Congressman Maloney for the leadership he has shown since arriving in office to support the agricultural community, and specifically for his efforts with this bill to encourage farmland sales to beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers, expedite and expand farm ownership loans, and ensure grants to support farm viability programs.”
"The Land Trust Alliance applauds Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney for taking on the challenge of land access for beginning farmers and ranchers," said President Andrew Bowman, Land Trust Alliance. "As the average age of American farmers approaches 60, his bill recognizes and supports the important role of local land trusts in preserving affordable farmland for the next generation. The targeted incentives and regulatory fixes in this bill will help to secure the clean water, wildlife habitat, scenic beauty and nutritious local food that we all enjoy."
“We want to thank Congressman Maloney for his wonderful leadership and sound understanding of the issues that young farmers face today, as exemplified by this Bill. We’ve seen a real resurgence in next generation farmers interested in establishing farm businesses; but the high cost of real estate in our area makes it difficult, if not impossible, for young farmers to buy land. And without land, you can’t farm. With a majority of the state’s farmland owned by landowners 55 and over, it’s time to concentrate efforts on helping young farmers establish a stable home and farm business, where they can build equity for the future, and where they can continue to provide fresh local food for our communities,” noted Becky Thornton, President, Dutchess Land Conservancy.
“Scenic Hudson is proud to collaborate with Congressman Maloney to support young and beginning farmers in the Hudson Valley and across the country, and to protect the land that is critical to sustaining the operation of the farms that provide fresh and local food to our region. These are critical to the future of our agricultural and tourism economies. We thank the Congressman for recognizing this important relationship and introducing legislation that will strengthen our ability to work together,” said Althea Mullarkey, Public Policy Analyst, Scenic Hudson.
Immediately after joining Congress in 2013, Rep. Maloney hosted his first Agriculture Town Hall where he heard that Congress and the USDA must do a better job protecting hardworking farmers in the Hudson Valley – especially in the aftermath of devastating storms like Hurricane Irene. In response to this Town Hall, Rep. Maloney introduced his first bill, the bipartisan CROP Act, which aimed to reform crop insurance and invest in the specialty crop farmers who drive the Hudson Valley’s agricultural economy. Rep. Maloney’s CROP Act, along with other key priorities for the Hudson Valley, was included in the 2014 Farm Bill. Maloney is also a cosponsor of the Young Farmer Success Act, legislation designed to incentivize careers in farming. The bill would designate farming as a public service under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, and allow qualified applicants to receive full federal student loan forgiveness after ten years of on-time payments.