August 21, 2014

Schumer, Gillibrand Announce Nearly $640,000 In Value-Added Producer Grants For Five Farms & Small Businesses In Rochester Finger Lakes Region

USDA Value-Added Funds Will be Used to Promote Growth & New Products for Small, Independent Producers; Boost Marketing Capabilities; Increase Brand Awareness

Washington, D.C – U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kristen Gillibrand today announced $643,800 in federal funding for two farms and two small businesses in the Rochester Finger Lake Region. The funding was allocated through the U.S Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) Program. Lagoner Farms, Inc. in Wayne County will receive $49,900 in federal funds to start a hard cider business. This funding will help Lagoner afford the costs associated with producing hard cider from the apples they have grown on the farm for over 100 years and market the new product to raise awareness. TreeCrisp2Go in Monroe County will receive $200,000 in federal funds that will be used to increase marketing capabilities to raise awareness for its new apple product. Casa Larga Vineyards in Wayne County will also receive $200,000 in federal funds that will be used to renovate a barn on its property. The expansion of this barn will allow Casa Larga to increase its retail space and sales by creating an indoor farmers market where local farmers will be able to sell their products year round. RT Solutions, which does business as Worm Power, in Livingston County will receive $156,500 in federal funding to begin production of a product that turns organic vermi-compost into a viable liquid product that improves plant quality. Crosswinds Farm and Creamery in Seneca County will receive $37,000 in federal funds that will be used to increase marketing for its artisan cheese business and improve the farm’s overall production to bring in increased revenue.

“Ensuring that agriculture is able to flourish and the unique needs of New York agriculture are considered in federal programs has always been a top priority of mine,” said Senator Schumer. “This direct USDA assistance will allow four small businesses and farms in the Rochester Finger Lakes area generate increased economic revenue by supporting their start-up ventures, product and facility expansions, and marketing needs for raising awareness. Helping our local businesses and farms expand their business and product lines for consumers will be a win-win for our agriculture industry, Rochester Finger Lakes area residents, and the entire regional economy.”

“We need our farmers to thrive if we’re going to have a strong and growing economy in New York,” said Senator Gillibrand, first New York Senator to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee in nearly 40 years. “This is a great investment for these local farms and small businesses in the Rochester Finger Lakes community and will help ensure they get the needed resources to bring their products to market and continue to drive economic growth in their region and across the state.”

“This funding is going to be very beneficial to our farm by adding value to apples, which is one of our biggest crops,” said Mark Lagoner, owner of Lagoner Farms. “We will be able to purchase supplies for the production process of cider and other cost associated with the promotion and sale of the product. This will help enhance and stabilize employment for are farm employees and family.”

“The USDA grant money will be used for creating awareness for a new apple product. This is a new business that will create ready to eat apples for the on the go consumers,” said Bob Norris, owner of TreeCrisp2Go, Inc. “We are excited to have the opportunity to place nature’s ultimate health snack into the convenience market, where they are desperately needed

“The funding will help us renovate a barn on our property that needs repair and allow us to expand retail space on the vineyard by creating an indoor farmers market, allowing local farmers to sell their products year round,” Steve Richards, General Manager of Casa Larga Vineyards. “It will also position us to put more funding in product development, such as refillable wine growlers, beer combinations, and food products made with grape juice and wine.”

“Our company uses earthworms to produce organic fertilizer, and we have recently been exploring a ground-breaking process to turn this fertilizer into a commercial product that will enhance the growth and protection of plants. This grant gives us to the ability to take this product to market, from production and labor all the way to marketing and distribution,” said Shawn Ferro, a spokesman for Worm Power.  “We’re extremely honored to receive it and would like to thank the USDA Rural Development agency for their support.”

“The grant will be used primarily for marketing purposes and for additional labor to expand our artisan cheese business,” said Sarah Van Orden, owner of Crosswinds Farm and Creamery. “We have a 60 cow herd, and we currently make two different styles of cheese. The funding will allow us to improve our farm by extending the value added segment of our production, which will translate back to increased economic growth in our community and improved farm profitability.”

The VAPG program is designed to help boost farms’ income and productivity by increasing access to capital, providing technical assistance and developing new marketing strategies for independent producers to increase exposure and broaden their customer base.