Washington, D.C. – U.S Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced $735,130 in federal funding for the Growing Farmers Initiative, a program at the Stone Barns Center in Pocantico Hills that will help train over 1,000 new farmers across New York State over a three-year period. The funding was awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and will be allocated through its Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development program. In January, Senator Gillibrand wrote to Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack urging the USDA’s support for Stone Barns Center’s efforts.
“This is a great investment for Westchester County farms and New York’s entire farming industry,” Senator Gillibrand said. “New York is home to the hardest working farm families and the finest locally-grown produce. When we support New York’s farms, we can help these businesses thrive, create more jobs, and connect more families and businesses with fresh, healthy produce.”
“There is a strong and vibrant corps of young people in New York who are dedicating themselves to a career in farming” Executive Director of Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, Jill Isenbarger said. “Stone Barns is committed to equipping this new generation of farmers with the technical skills and support they need to produce healthy food and steward the land that provides it.”
The federal grant will create more training opportunities and provide farmers with hands-on classes in management, sustainability and more. As a result, farmers will be fully equipped with the necessary tools and skills to work with the dozens of partners of the Stone Barns Center. This will allow New York farmers to build a regional farming and trading network, essentially boosting the farming industry and overall economy in the region.
Over 35,000 farms stretch across 7.1 million acres, making up one-fourth of New York State. New York’s agriculture industry generates nearly $4.5 billion for the state’s economy.
The Stone Barns Center is a comprehensive facility that functions both as a fully-operational farm and education center for aspiring farmers. Their focus on regional-centric farming methods and products cultivates the knowledge and experience necessary to start and maintain a well-functioning farm in upstate New York.
The Stone Barns Center has also hosted First Lady Michelle Obama and 40 other First Ladies from across the world, drawing attention to its programming and increasing demand in its services.
Senator Gillibrand’s full January letter to Agriculture Secretary Vilsack is attached.