ALBANY - Senate Agriculture Chair Catharine Young (R,I,C-Olean) announced up to $50,000 in matching state funds will be available for food and farm-related tourism projects across New York State.
"Agriculture is our top industry in New York, and tourism is second. Agri-tourism marries these two industries and strengthens them both. The opportunity for economic growth for our small businesses and our communities is outstanding," Senator Young said.
The $1 million agri-tourism initiative was added to the state budget this year by the Senate Majority, Senator Young said. It will allow food and agriculture-related businesses such as farm stands, cider mills, maple sugar processors, cheesemakers and wineries the opportunity to enhance their offerings to attract more tourists.
"Travelers still love New York and we should give them a taste of all the wonderful things we have to offer. We have some of the best restaurants in the world, hugely diverse and delicious farm products and magnificent scenery. When you add it all together, it’s a winning combination and an economic engine," Senator Young said.
The new grant program, provides up to $50,000 in matching funds for projects involving traditional agri-tourism activities, as well as new approaches in promoting New York food and agriculture.
Individuals, public and private agencies and organizations, business and industry, educational institutions and local governments are eligible to submit proposals for funding under this Request for Proposals (RFP.) Eligible projects should involve the development, implementation or expansion of activities which promote New York food and agriculture by attracting visitors to New York State for economic, social, cultural, environmental and or educational purposes. Projects and activities may be for-profit or not-for-profit, and may involve ongoing, seasonal, annual, or one time events.
State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick H. Brennan said, "Agri-tourism has become increasingly popular and important in New York State. While our farmers and food producers work hard to provide a fresh, wholesome product for consumers, they are also working hard to ensure that agriculture and farming have a viable future. They are doing so by inviting the public onto their operations in an effort to educate the consumer on where their food comes from, why agriculture exists and the numerous benefits of having farms in New York State. I am thrilled that Senator Young has made these resources available to further enhance the agri-tourism efforts already taking place throughout New York State and look forward to seeing the results of this terrific funding opportunity."
Eligible proposals should involve a program, project or activity taking place at a food or agriculture related location that promotes the production, harvest, processing, manufacture, or sale of New York State food and farm products, attracts visitors and enhance the public’s understanding and awareness of New York agriculture. Examples of eligible projects may include but are not limited to:
Direct Marketing Efforts: Farm stands, farmers’ markets, cut your own Christmas trees, u-pick operations, and local breweries and wineries.
Educational Venues: Farm, garden and food processing tours, museums, food and agricultural exhibits.
Entertainment: Fairs and festivals, petting zoos, hay rides, corn mazes, children’s activities and outdoor recreation.
Lodging & Dining: Bed and breakfasts, farm vacations, rural campgrounds, country inns, restaurants and food concessions.
Agri-tourism grant applications are available by contacting Meg McCabe at the Department at 1-800-554-4501 or by downloading the form from the Department’s website at http://www.agmkt.state.ny.us/RFPS.html . All applications for funding are due into the Department no later than 4:30 p.m. on September 11, 2006.
New York’s food, agriculture and tourism industries are the leading sectors in the State’s economy. These sectors also compliment each other, and when combined, offer significant opportunities for industry and community enrichment and growth in every region of the State.
Agri-tourism generates income, creates jobs, provides economic diversification and stabilization, and attracts tourists and the dollars they spend. From a social and cultural standpoint, agri-tourism can help preserve rural lifestyles, increase awareness and appreciation for rural and agricultural heritage, increase a sense of community pride, and raise awareness of rural and agricultural issues.
Environmentally, food and agricultural tourism often contributes to better agricultural environmental management, protection of farmland, restoration of agricultural heritage sites, and greater and better use of farmland, forests, and other agricultural resources.
Agriculture is one of New York’s largest and most vital industries, encompassing 25 percent of the State’s landscape and generating more than $3.6 billion for our economy each year. New York State has 7.6 million acres of farmland with 36,000 farms. The State is also a leader in a variety of farm products, ranking first in cottage cheese, second in apples and cabbage, and third in milk, maple syrup, grapes, sweet corn, snap beans, and cauliflower.