In a recent press release, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the “New York Fresh Connect Farmers’ Markets” (FreshConnect) program, which launches new farmers markets’ and expands others around the state of New York. This is great news and real progress for farmers in New York.
The program is designed to assist New York farmers by increasing the sale of locally-grown food to local communities. The program will also bring fresh food to under served communities, improve nutrition education, and help create local jobs.
This is a new initiative by the Governor to invest in New York’s agricultural industry — so vital to the economy. Fresh Connect will focus on ways to support and expand New York farms through farm product sales, branding, marketing, distribution, local food processing innovations, and improving the business climate by reducing the regulatory burden on farmers.
I truly hope this is more than just words and I hope it applies to all the farmers — not just produce farmers. I hope it includes farm to consumer foods like pastured eggs and pastured meats and even fresh dairy products. To quote Governor Cuomo,
Farmers’ markets increase farm sales and revenue by bringing farm produce directly to the consumer … these markets also help under served communities by providing fresh produce, nutritional education, and local jobs. The FreshConnect program empowers all New Yorkers to choose healthy, affordable, locally-grown food. This program is a win-win for farmers and consumers.
A farm to consumer connection is generally a good policy as long as there are no major regulations and fees that make it too expensive for the farmer to do business.
They are planning to open 7 new markets in locations like Harlem, Mount Vernon, Queens, and the Bronx. Existing markets will start to accept EBT or food stamps for the first time, reaching out to under served people in low income communities.
As part of the program, the state provides the following services, if needed: up to $15,000 in funding per market; identify suitable markets; recruit farmers to participate; assist with marketing, promotion, nutrition education, community outreach, and other services; and coordinate with local officials and business groups.
This Fresh Connect program is an investment in the agriculture industry in New York. It includes programs to develop New York’s regional farm-food system, increase access to credit for farmers, expand food processing capabilities, and use emerging technologies to lower energy costs and encourage the growth of renewable energy sources.
Fresh Connect is also expected to increase distribution of New York farm products and to improve the branding and marketing of New York organic and New York grown foods.
I’m so glad they mentioned organic food. Farmers markets are terrific and I visit one in my town every week — but I would so like to have a farmers’ market that includes organic farmers.
These farmers really need assistance in the switch to organic farming — and perhaps decreasing the cost of doing so would encourage more farmers to take the challenge. New York ranks second in the nation for apple production, yet I have not found any organic apples grown here.
I would LOVE to be able to buy organic apple from New York! Wouldn’t you? Do you have a farmers’ market in your neighborhood? Leave a comment and let me know!