2019 FVI Program: High Numbers of Proposals, Growth in Direct Marketing, Dairy Requests

The farmer review process for the 2019 grant round is well underway. Farm Viability received 46 proposals requesting nearly $5 million.  By the end of March 2019, we’ll know which of the proposals are the right fit for our program and of interest to New York farmers

This article was originally published in the 2019 NYFVI annual report.

The 2019 RFP brought in a wide range of ideas and organizations seeking to help New York farmers. From block chain to business plans NY farmers are fortunate to have so many passionate people hoping to help.

Many of the 2019 project applicants have ideas to help farmers direct market their products. This year we will use a review panel specifically for these as they often cross traditional commodity lines.

We also received several hemp proposals that warrant a dedicated review panel.

We were happy to see the number of proposals in the dairy industry double this year and hope to see more proposals in other livestock sectors in the future.

It’s worth noting that overall, our program is designed to respond to the proposals that we receive. Flexibility is one of the strengths of the organization. Since we don’t have quotas, we’re always able to simply prioritize the work with the most potential for funding. We’ve seen over time that our funding tends to reflect the size of the commodity overall. The chart on the right illustrates how the funding for the last three years has been spent by commodity area.

The 2019 grant round was the second year we explicitly encouraged technology proposals in our RFP and we’re happy with the results. 

Of the 46 proposals over 20% hope to use or develop technology in their work. This is a much higher number than we’ve seen previously.

We continue to believe that there are significant opportunities for more people and organizations with skills in engineering, data analytics, and software development to work on tools that benefit NY farmers. That’s why we’ve made introductions between ag researchers and SUNY University at Buffalo helping them tap into the State’s high performance computational consortium. And, it’s why we’ve made introductions from Rensselaer Polytech Institute to Cornell plant pathologists—so they can collaborate on opportunities to use UV light to fight pathogens.

This year we received two proposals hoping to develop weather tools for New York farmers. As a result, we’ve already introduced researchers at SUNY Albany’s Atmospheric Sciences Research Center to Cornell IPM faculty working in the same area.

We also engage on an ongoing basis to help start-up companies that are building tools for farmers to build relationships with people in our ag networks. We believe that their success is good for everyone. Late in 2017 we supported work at Cornell to validate the SomaDetect in-line milk sensor. In the 2018 grant round we were pleased to fund a proposal with Zymtronix, a startup based out of Cornell working in nanoparticles that is developing a new seed coating to prevent disease and reduce the need for pesticides.