State Assembly Approves Assemblyman Santabarbara’s Bill to Help Small Farmers

Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara (D-Rotterdam) announced that legislation he sponsored to help small farmers modernize their operations and increase their productivity passed the Assembly (A.7037-A).

“Small farms are a vital part of our local economy and helping them modernize will have positive effects throughout our community,” Assemblyman Santabarbara said. “This legislation will help local farmers better compete by providing them with grants to access new technologies and improve their infrastructure.”

The Small Farm Modernization Fund Program, in cooperation with Empire State Development, would provide grants of up to $25,000 to help small farmers modernize their equipment, increase capacity and improve the marketing of their products. The grants would help small farmers adapt to the fast-growing demand for locally produced fruits and vegetables, meats and dairy products.

Farm modernization is also important for small farms that are undergoing transitions from longtime owners to new owners, and for beginning farmers who often struggle with overwhelming startup costs when they are first setting out. For these farmers, the ability to modernize their equipment can mean the difference between success and failure, noted Assemblyman Santabarbara.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the number of farmers under the age of 35 in New York State grew by 14.4 percent from 2007-2012, far above the national average of 1.1 percent. In 2012, nearly 2,150 farmers under 35 years old were running their own farms, including 185 farmers under the age of 25.1 During the same five-year period, the total number of farms in Montgomery County increased by 9 percent.2

“Farmers throughout our region know firsthand how important it is to keep up with the demand for our products,” said Ken DeBlock of Prayerview Dairy Farm in Fort Plain. “For many of us, access to new technologies and the ability to adapt to new markets isn’t just about improving our farms – it’s about ensuring our livelihoods. Assemblyman Santabarbara’s bill is an important step in the right direction for New York farmers.”