The HVADC Cultivator
HVADC on the Road
Given the sheer expanse of the seven counties within HVADC’s coverage and the countless organizations it collaborates with, almost every day either Executive Director Todd Erling or Deputy Director Mary Ann Johnson are on the road interacting with HVADC clients and other key stakeholders in the region. Both also sit on multiple committees and boards on the county and state levels, and participating in various events facilitates the sharing of information, resources, creative problem solving, and HVADC expertise and outreach. Here is just a glimpse of where their travels took them these past months and the events they attended.
Mary Ann’s calendar:
July: Mary Ann was joined by HVADC Program Associate, Jennifer Bock at the Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training at the Cornell Cooperative Extension Albany County office in Voorheesville. The HVADC duo attended a thorough, one-day training program designed to provide a foundation of Good Agricultural Practices with an emphasis on co-management of food safety and environmental management goals and outlined the requirements in the Food Safety Modernization Act (FMSA) Produce Safety Rule. “After attending the PSA Grower Training course, I feel that I have a greater understanding of the requirements and procedures needed and will be better able to assist our growers and producers with any questions they may have,” Jennifer said.
August: Congressman John Faso hosted a Round Table discussion with U.S. Agricultural Secretary Sonny Perdue at two Columbia county farms focused on creating a reliable workforce, the increasing concern regarding the dairy crisis, and trade implications. Secretary Purdue exchanged thoughts with farmers on the challenges of the H-2A labor program. Congressmen Faso said he is working with Congress toward a permanent solution for an agricultural workforce. Perdue said he is working on regulatory matters with Department of Labor, Homeland Security and State, hoping to get cumbersome rules and regulations alleviated with a more streamline automated system through a portal on USDA.gov. “It was a pleasure to meet Secretary Purdue and to learn about the steps he is taking to address many important issues for our farmers in the Hudson Valley,” said Mary Ann after the event.
September: The Albany SCORE office hosted a meeting to promote the interaction of its volunteers with several representatives of the Farm Service Agency (FSA) including Lynette Wright, State Outreach Coordinator. SCORE is the nation’s largest volunteer network of expert business mentors, matching business professionals and entrepreneurs with new business owners to counsel them through the process of starting-up and maintaining a new business. The meeting was designed to educate SCORE staff about FSA programming and how to best utilize SCORE counselors in the process of helping new and beginning farmers. In 2017, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue signed a Memorandum of Understanding with SCORE to allow the agency to provide resources to agri-businesses through partnership with the USDA. “This was a useful networking opportunity to meet local business counselors and other agencies to share our work and explore potential partnerships for supporting agricultural business development,” noted Mary Ann.
August: Todd participated in the 4th Annual Dutchess County Agricultural Advisory Committee Round Table at Dutchess County Fair with County Executive Marcus Molinaro and Legislature Chairman Gregg Pulver, a fourth generation farmer. The Committee is the charged with implementation of the County’s Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan. As a member of the Advisory Committee, Todd presented on HVADC’s Incubator Without Walls (IWW) and Farm and Food Funding Accelerator (FFFA) programs, designed to connect farm and food entrepreneurs with possible funding, networking and other valuable resources.
September: Todd participated in the 2018 Annual Meeting of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) in Hartford, Conn. NASDA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit association which represents the elected and appointed commissioners, secretaries, and directors of the departments of agriculture in all fifty states and four U.S. territories.
Todd, along with Dorothy Suput of the Carrot Project and Ela Chapin from the Vermont Farm and Forest Viability Program, were there to promote the multi-state, multi-agency, collaboration known as the Blueprint: Building a Better Business Assistance Network for Farms and Food Businesses. The Blueprint calls for the creation of a network of organizations, programs, and services to bridge service gaps, reach underserved populations, increase total funding for the sector, and facilitate effective collaboration among the organizations and individuals providing business technical assistance.
Todd had the opportunity to explain to how state and federal programs support farmers, fishermen, food entrepreneurs and consumers in the northeast. Todd mentioned that HVADC accelerator programs were funded in the past through the USDA and currently by the EDA. The initial accelerator program supported its participants in exceeding all identified goals by increasing market, sales, jobs and indirect jobs; incrementally contributing $3 million to local economy.
For more information about HVADC’s Incubator Without Walls or FFFA programs, visit www.hvadc.org.
Photo source: HVADC