March 31, 2014

Speaker Silver and Environmental Chair Sweeney Announce $9 million Increase to Environmental Protection Fund Included in SFY 2014-15 Budget
Agriculture Committee Chair Magee Announces Creation of Beginning Farmers New York Fund in Budget that Also Invests and Restores Funds to Critical State Agriculture Programs

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Robert K. Sweeney and Agriculture Committee Chair William Magee today announced the SFY 2014-15 Budget will provide $162 million to the state Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), a $9 million increase above last year's budget and invests and restores funding to programs critical to the state's agriculture industry.

"This much-needed funding increase for the Environmental Protection Fund was an Assembly led initiative that reflects our strong commitment to environmental programs that communities throughout the state utilize to help provide our residents with a safer and cleaner environment," said Silver. "These additional funds will help support many important environmental projects that are dedicated to reducing air pollution, protecting the water we drink and increasing the availability of green spaces for New Yorkers to enjoy."

"I am very pleased that the Assembly successfully secured additional funds for the EPF, an initiative that is used statewide to safeguard water supplies, establish greater public access to our waterways and improve parklands and recreational areas," said Sweeney. "This increased funding for EPF will yield environmental dividends in ways that will benefit the health and wellbeing of New Yorkers today and into the future."

The 2014-15 SFY Budget's EPF funding increase of $9 million reflects the Assembly commitment of $5 million and the $4 million included in the Executive Budget for state support of important environmental programs that will benefit communities throughout New York State.

The budget also will provide $92.5 million in capital investment funds to the state park system, which in partnership with the New York Works Program, will help address the statewide back log of major infrastructure projects involving the repair, refurbishment and rebuilding of such state parks as Jones Beach, Niagara Falls, Letchworth, Harriman and Green Lakes.

Beginning Farmers Initiative and Funding for Agriculture Programs Included in Budget

"I am pleased that this budget restores and increases funding to key state agriculture programs that are important to the farmers and New York's agriculture industry," said Agriculture Committee Chair Bill Magee. "The budget also establishes the Beginning Farmers NY Fund, which I believe with its cash incentives and focus on modern farming methods will prepare the next generation of farmers for a rewarding and successful career in agriculture."

The budget establishes The Beginning Farmers Fund, which will provide fledgling farmers with a grant of up to $50,000. It will be administered by Empire State Development and give priority to individuals who plan to be organic farmers or grow specialty crops.

There is $8.5 million in funding restorations and increases for important agriculture programs administered by the State Department of Agriculture that is also in the budget. These funds will benefit growers and the marketing of such New York State farm products as produce, maple syrup and Christmas trees.

Another agriculture budget initiative will provide confidentiality for certain dairy farm records used in the New York State Cattle Health Assurance Program, a voluntary program that assists farmers in the prevention and treatment of animal health problems through veterinary visits, lab testing and statewide monitoring.