Understanding NYFVI’s Thinking About Impact

NYFVI understands that not every good project will deliver near term impact.  Applicants are encouraged to read the priority areas carefully to understand the time frame in which various types of projects are expected to deliver a return. 
A successful project is likely to consider the economics of a recommended practice at every stage of its development.
Our goal is to ensure that the ideas that are developed have an identified market, support from the agriculture community, are affordable to implement and will ultimately improve the profitability of New York’s farmers.

A key strength of NYFVI is its ability to respond to the best proposals received in any given grant round. The organization doesn’t set quotas by commodity area, production practices or farm size. Nor do we have goals for the number of projects to fund in each priority area.

While it may seem ad hoc, over time the system has proven to be remarkably effective at prioritizing projects that will clearly deliver short term impact, while allowing the organization to take calculated risks on longer term work. And, the allocation of funds over the last five years is a reasonable match to the size of the commodity in the state.

Common Factors Among Successful Proposals for Longer Term Impact
How a proposal will fare in any given year, is strongly linked to its competition. That said, there are factors that make longer term work more competitive.

  • Ongoing cost analysis
  • Strong support by the agricultural community
  • Clear, quantified market opportunity

For example, a few years ago, Dr. Martin Wiedmann with Cornell’s Food Science program proposed a project to identify sporeforming bacteria that survives pasteurization. Key to this project’s funding success was Cayuga Milk Marketing’s interest in export markets, many of which, unlike the U.S. have standards for sporeforming bacteria in finished products.

As another example we recently funded work by Dr. Phil Griffiths at the NYS Ag Experiment Station. His goal is to improve the plant architecture and color profile of black beans. What made this earlier stage project stand out? Grower and supply chain interest.

Some years, there may be a number of strong projects focused on “improving individual operations” that will clearly deliver on farm impact in the life of the grant. Incremental improvements on dairies have the potential to deliver huge, quick farm-level impacts.

Other years, the most competitive projects will be focused on changing how an industry operates. Examples of this include the work by Tom Kilcer of Advanced Ag Alliance in double cropping winter forages and Cornell’s work led by Dr. Terence Robinson in high density apple plantings.

Most years, we will fund a few marketing projects; and while we welcome projects that develop human capital it is often difficult work for a project leader to quantify and for NYFVI to fund. That said, some projects of this nature have been funded.

So, the message is; yes, NYFVI may fund proposals that require longer timelines for impact. The odds for funding these projects may be a little lower, but it is definitely work that is seriously considered

Outcomes Based Funding Model

Projects that have completed with NYFVI funding have achieved a seven-to-one return on investment as measured by new capital investment, cost savings, and increased revenue. 5,000 producers have participated in our projects and thousands more have been reached with project findings.

The anticipated outcomes will vary based on the nature of your work (see NYFVI priority areas), but all of them should build towards improved profitability for New York farmers.

The following list provides guidance about the outcomes NYFVI might expect in our projects by priority area.

Improving Individual Operations
Increased revenue or reduced operating costs for farmers adopting practices.

Foster Industry-Wide Innovation
New/Best management practices with accompanying economic analysis

Incubate New Ideas
Proven or disproven hypothesis that if true, will build a foundation for future work and lead to improved economic viability.
Evaluate consumer preferences and quantify consumer demand for a specific item

Improve Route to Market and Marketing Practices Increased revenue/reduced marketing costs for farmers benefiting from the project
New/Best management practices with accompanying economic analysis
Demonstrate (measure) the value of new markets or different routes to market

Develop Human Capital
Increased revenue/reduced operating costs for farmers benefiting from the project.