‘New York State Grown’ grants available

North Country farmers hoping to become “New York State Grown and Certified” will now have access to special grants, thanks to a partnership between DANC, Cornell Cooperative Extension, and county and state agencies.

The Development Authority of the North Country received a $500,000 grant through the North Country Regional Economic Development Council to help local farmers meet the standards necessary for participation in the “Grown and Certified” program. The statewide program was launched in 2016 to meet growing demand for local foods. Farmers who participate in the “Grown and Certified” program are expected to adhere to higher safety and environmental stewardship standards.

Agricultural producers in Jefferson, Lewis, St. Lawrence, Clinton, Franklin, Essex and Hamilton counties are eligible to apply for up to $50,000 and must contribute 10 percent of the total project cost in cash equity. This will mark the first iteration of the regional “Grown and Certified” grant.

Eligible products include produce, dairy, shellfish, eggs, beef, poultry, pork, maple products, alcoholic beverages and beverage ingredients. Cornell Cooperative Extension offices throughout the region will assist grant recipients with good agricultural practices, and county soil and water conservation offices will assist with agriculture environmental management.

DANC Regional Development Director Michelle Capone said that her office has so far seen a high number of vegetable, maple and dairy producers express interest in the grants.

“We’re excited to raise awareness of all the great north country-grown products that are available statewide,” Capone said. In a news release, DANC Executive Director James Wright called agriculture “an important part of the north country economy,” and said that his agency is “always seeking ways to help broaden markets for our local producers.”

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball said that the new regional grant program will “go a long way in helping our producers make the upgrades they need on the farm to implement safe food handling practices.”