Assemblywoman Woerner Pushes Bill Supporting New Farmers and Preserving Farmland
Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner (D-Round Lake) held a press conference in Albany today in support of her legislation to establish the Farmland for a New Generation program (A.9619-A).
“Agriculture is a critical industry and an important family tradition not only in Saratoga and Washington counties, but across New York State,” said Woerner. “The Farmland for a New Generation program will help ensure the success of our family farms for many years to come by supporting both current and new farmers and protecting our farmland.”
Woerner was joined by Senator Pamela Helming, Chair of the Legislative Commission on Rural Resources; David Haight, director of the American Farmland Trust; Zack Metzger, steward of Laughing Earth Farm; Teri Ptacek, executive director of the Agricultural Stewardship Association; Schuyler Gail, owner and spokesperson for Climbing Tree Farm; and Chris Wayne, FARMroots director for GrowNYC, who all spoke on the importance of the bill and for the need to support new farmers.
“I’m encouraged by the support for this bill and the Farmland for a New Generation program as I stand alongside colleagues, farmers and community leaders,” said Woerner. “Together, we can help preserve our community’s farms and protect the future of New York State agriculture.”
The Farmland for a New Generation program would ensure that new farmers can access land, assist established farmers in finding successors and establish a statewide resource center to help farmers protect their land through conservation easements.
“Farms of all types and sizes dot the landscape of the Wayne-Finger Lakes Region and are a top driver of job creation and economic development. Supporting our family farms is an investment in the future of agriculture – one that benefits every resident of the State. As the Senate sponsor of this bill, I am proud to stand with Assemblywoman Woerner today to support local farmers and help give them the tools they need to be successful,” said Senator Pam Helming, who serves as the Senate Chair of the Legislative Commission on Rural Resources.
Nearly 30 percent of New York farms are operated by farmers 65 and older, many of whom don’t have successors to acquire the land after their retirement.1 Their farmland becomes vulnerable to real estate development projects, which have caused more than 4,000 farms to close since the 1980s.2 This creates barriers for new farmers just starting out, who struggle to find affordable farmland close to markets, noted Woerner. The program would help beginning farmers find farmland while assisting farmers looking to hand their farms down.