Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
Jola Szubielski, Kirstan Conley 518-457-0752

October 19, 2018

State Agriculture Commissioner Announces $1.36 Million to Support New York’s Specialty Crop Industry

Funds 12 New Advanced Research and Marketing Projects

More Than $12 Million Awarded Since 2006 to Help Improve Farming Techniques, Protect Agricultural Crops

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball announced today that more than $1.36 million in funding will support 12 advanced research, education and marketing projects to help specialty crop farms across New York State grow and remain competitive. The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets secured the grant through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Specialty Crop Block Grant program. 

New York’s specialty crops include fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, maple syrup and honey, and are among the state’s most valuable agricultural products. Since the USDA began the program in 2006, New York State has been awarded $12.5 million for 129 specialty crop projects across the State.

Commissioner Ball said, “This grant will help our growers ensure that some of our most valuable agricultural crops are more resilient, and that our farmers can remain competitive in today’s marketplace. These projects will mean stronger and better crops, more success for farmers and better food on the tables of New Yorkers.”

The research grants will be used to find ways to improve soil health and pest management in beets, onions, corn and cider apples. Research supported by the grants will also help improve apple storage practices and investigate kelp aquaculture techniques. The remaining funds will go to five projects led by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets to help growers with Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification and to market and promote specialty crops, including New York’s Concord grape industry.

The funding announced today provides $600,000 for seven grower research/education projects. These projects were identified through a competitive program supported by the New York Farm Viability Institute.

Research projects were awarded in several areas, including production, disease resistance and harvesting. They include:

    • Monitoring pathogenicity of fire blight strains
    • Management of wireworms in organic and conventional production systems
    • Sustainable foliar disease control within the New York table beet industry
    • Management of disease and fungicide resistance in New York-grown onions
    • Refining tillage systems for vine crops and sweet corn on muck soils
    • Proper harvesting and storage techniques for New York apples
    • Aquaculture production of kelp

Cornell University will lead six of the seven research projects, with the SUNY Research Foundation leading kelp research.

An additional $761,000 will fund five Department-led marketing projects to further promote New York’s specialty crops, including:

    • Promotion of the Concord grape industry
    • Support for the state’s specialty crops at trade shows
    • Advertising and promotion of New York’s specialty crop producers
    • Expansion of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) reimbursements to specialty crop growers
    • Improving marketing services, such as business-to-business websites, for specialty crop producers

The Specialty Crop Block Grant program is administered through the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets and its Specialty Crop Advisory Committee. The New York Farm Viability Institute evaluates the research proposals, reviews applications, submits recommendations to the Department, and then oversees the progress of the projects.

Grant funds are awarded to applicants whose projects have statewide significance to the specialty crop industry and build knowledge that will help all growers.

Mike Jordan, Chair, NYFVI Board of Directors, said, “We are pleased to support the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets with this valuable program. Our role is to identify the proposals that most reflect the needs of the farming community. The quality of this year’s proposals was outstanding. New York farmers are fortunate to have such smart, dedicated researchers.”

Julie Suarez, Associate Dean for Governmental and Community Relations at Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, said, “Specialty crops are vital to New York’s wonderfully diverse farm and food system. Cornell CALS is thrilled to engage in science-based problem solving to help farmers grow the foods that we all enjoy eating -- in the most economical and environmentally sustainable way. I appreciate the partnership with Commissioner Ball and the New York Farm Viability Institute as we work to advance agriculture in New York State.”   

Sam Filler, President of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation, said, “Concord is the leading grape grown in New York State. It makes up 70% of all statewide grape production. This funding provides critical support to expand the market place for Concord-based products like juice, wine, fresh table grapes, and other Concord-based products.”

Helen Thomas, Executive Director of the New York State Maple Producers’ Association, said, “The specialty crop funding has been important to New York Maple for several years. The maple crop production in New York State has nearly tripled in the last 15 years due in part to projects funded by this program. Going forward, the funds will be used for marketing the crop so that New York State becomes known as a maple-producing state.”

Brian Reeves, President of the New York State Vegetable Growers Association, said, “This grant money will help New York State specialty crop growers stay competitive by developing better techniques for growing, storing and marketing their crops. This will help farms in New York to stay viable and ensure New York residents continue to have access to abundant, affordable, nutritious food.”

Cynthia Haskins, President and CEO of the New York Apple Association, said, “Funding programs like this are invaluable to our industry. Being on the cutting edge of technology is a win-win for, not only the New York Apple industry, but for agriculture overall.”

2018 Press Releases