Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand today announced $213,400 for the Sullivan County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) to launch a satellite Food Distribution Hub Project, providing Sullivan Country farmers an effective distribution line to move their goods to local and regional markets, an effort that is expected to create up to 19 new local jobs. The federal funding is allocated through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Business Enterprise Grant Program.
In a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Senator Gillibrand personally advocated for Sullivan County’s effort to strengthen the local agriculture industry.
“Stores, markets, and restaurants throughout the Hudson Valley-and-beyond should be filled with Sullivan County’s locally-grown products,” said Senator Schumer. “With the Sullivan County Industrial Development Agency leading the way, and the USDA funding behind them, the Food Distribution Hub Project will grow the partnership between local organizations and community farmers, and serve as an economic boost to the region, all while providing delicious, high-quality food.”
“Connecting more of our local farms with local markets is good for business, and good for the health of our families,” said Senator Gillibrand, the first New York Senator to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee in four decades and a leading advocate for developing food hubs. “Farms of the Hudson Valley are growing some of the highest quality produce. And when we help these farms reach new markets in the region, we can connect families, businesses and schools with food that’s grown right in our community, and help strengthen the local economy.”
“We are very pleased and excited to receive this Rural Business Enterprise Grant from the USDA to support Sullivan County’s farms and agricultural community,” said Ira Steingart, Chairman of the Sullivan County Industrial Development Agency and Sullivan County Legislator. “The funding will be used to create a local food hub in Sullivan County that will provide much needed marketing support to farms throughout the region. This grant will help boost the economy of Sullivan County.”
“Developing solutions for gaps in our local foods distribution is a critical step which can support our regional food systems and ensure that our farm families can make a living as viable partners in a sustainable economic future,” Executive Director of Hudson Valley AgriBusiness Development Corp., Todd M. Erling said. “HVADC appreciates the collaborative efforts of local businesses, the Sullivan County IDA, Ginsberg’s Foods and the USDA programs in creating long-lasting opportunities to expand the available farm products in the Hudson Valley.”
“We could not be more thrilled with the award of this grant for our local food hub/distribution project in Sullivan County and the Mid-Hudson Region. The idea of providing the pick-up and delivery for our local providers and connecting them directly with end users with the subsequent ability to distribute regionally is a huge win for all,” said Sullivan County Legislature Chairman Scott Samuelson. “The agricultural community is such an important part of our economic future and anything we can do to help our farmers sell and distribute their products is a positive step forward. We want to thank all parties involved that helped make the application such a success and are very grateful to Senator Gillibrand for her always constant support of Sullivan County, our residents and the Mid-Hudson Region.”
The Sullivan County IDA will specifically use the federal funds to launch a satellite Food Distribution Hub Project that will help enable farmers and food producers in the Sullivan-Wawarsing REAP Zone to efficiently access thriving local and regional markets. The IDA will develop a centrally located aggregation and distribution facility to meet demand for Less Than Trailer Load (LTL) freight service, enabling transactions between farmers and wholesale buyers within the county while also opening up local producers to the larger Hudson Valley and New York City markets.
Senator Gillibrand was successful in securing the reauthorization of Rural Economic Area Partnership (REAP) designation for the Sullivan-Wawarsing Zone in the recently-passed Senate Farm Bill. The measure would extend a designation that helps give the region priority access to federal funding from the USDA to help grow the local economy and revitalize rural communities. The current Sullivan-Wawarsing REAP Zone designation expires September 30, 2013. Senator Gillibrand’s measure would extend the designation another five years. After clearing final passage in the Senate, the legislation now awaits passage by the House of Representatives.
Senator Gillibrand’s letter to Secretary Vilsack is attached.