While many picture the lives of farmers as idle at this time of year, that’s not quite the case. Every winter, farmers gather with their ag organizations to recognize accomplishments, plan for the future, and celebrate distinguished service. They also invest time in the tremendous educational programs provided by the land grant university and Cooperative Extension.
New York’s farmers take that knowledge back to their farm offices or kitchen tables and make plans for the upcoming growing season, evaluating past performance and discussing what they may do differently in the upcoming year. What a farm needs to do to remain competitive will vary based on the challenges faced by each operation. Some years the change is a small, incremental improvement to a growing practice, and at other times it is a bigger decision on expanding, entering new markets, or changing crops.
While specific challenges vary by commodity, every year there is ongoing pressure for all farms to become more efficient, to do more with less, and to meet changing consumer demands—all while fighting diseases, weeds, and managing through changing weather patterns. At Farm Viability, it is our belief that the projects our board and review panels have funded throughout the years have created knowledge that farms are acting upon today.
That’s why I’m pleased to share with you the projects that were prioritized for funding in our FVI 2021 grant round. Farmers across the State reviewed and discussed these projects, and the board is confident that they will create the knowledge that New York farmers need to continuously change and improve.
The projects will support farmers to make informed business decisions about anaerobic digesters to reduce methane emissions; understand the value of manure; and continue to develop knowledge about dairy nutrition to inform feeding practices. Other work will help growers use less pesticides as they manage increasingly prevalent pest and disease conditions due to climate change.
This year, our FY 21/22 appropriation, combined with one-time adjustments related to the pandemic, allowed us to support seventeen projects for a total of $1.8 million. I would like to thank the New York State legislature and Governor for the trust they have placed in our organization to make wise and effective use of State funds. We appreciate the leadership of Senator Hinchey, Assemblymember Lupardo and their Ag committees as they have helped their colleagues build knowledge about the food system and agriculture across the State.
I would also like to thank all the applicants who invested their time to develop proposals. New York is fortunate to have so many dedicated and talented individuals from organizations across the State that are eager to support farmers. Unfortunately, our resources did not allow all the good ideas to move forward. I would also like to thank the farmers who served on our review panels for their time. They did a great job scoring and ranking proposals, and I’m looking forward to learning what they think of the USDA Specialty Crop proposals—a program that we administer on behalf of NY’s Department of Agriculture and Markets—that are now in review!
Nursery and Landscape Association Representative