The HVADC Cultivator
HVADC on the Road
Even through summer vacation months, getting kids back off to school, harvest season and more, HVADC Deputy Director Mary Ann Johnson was on the road in recent months, traveling throughout the seven counties covered by HVADC initiatives: Dutchess, Columbia, Rensselaer, Washington, Orange, Sullivan and Ulster. Meeting with farms, agribusinesses, committees, boards, businesses, municipalities, initiatives, and state and county governments is an integral part of HVADC’s regional outreach, to lend expertise and to collaborate with other groups. Such interactions with other key stakeholders and like-minded organizations throughout the region facilitate the sharing of information, resources, program development, and foster creative thinking and problem solving.
Mary Ann coordinated and hosted the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, John Williams, at MX Morningstar Farm in Claverack along with HV Fisheries and Fishkill Farms on July 10 for a discussion. All are or have been HVADC clients. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York is one of the 12 Federal Reserve Banks of the United States, and is responsible for implementing monetary policy, supervising and regulating financial institutions and helping to maintain the nation’s payment systems.
“The labor force and access to capital issues raised by the farmers during the dialogue are both keys issues and of importance to the New York Fed,” said Javier Silva, Senior Associate Director of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. “The visit to MX Morningstar Farm is part of the New York Fed’s ongoing efforts to deepen understanding of regional economic conditions. Meeting with business, community groups, and local officials allows the New York Fed to identify ways to further support the Second District. While we cannot address all the challenges we hear during these trips, we can leverage our convening power, build connections within the District and utilize our research capabilities to provide support where we can.” Way to go Mary Ann for sparking connections with those who are able to effect a change.
William’s visit to Claverack was part of a two-day tour of the region where he met with key stakeholders to learn about local economic conditions. In addition to the challenges facing agribusiness, other topics explored included workforce development, changing demographics, concerns about equitable growth, and a lack of affordable housing and public transportation. Learn more in the full report of William’s tour of the Hudson Valley.
“It was a pleasure to meet Mr. Williams and to work with his staff to showcase the importance of agriculture to the region and discuss the economic realities facing our farmers,” said Mary Ann. “This builds on our work with the Federal Reserve Bank to bring the popular “Access to Capital for Food, Beverage and Agricultural Enterprises” series to the Hudson Valley where several of our Farm and Food Funding Accelerator Peers had been able to “pitch” as a new element to the workshop.”
In September, Mary Ann attended a New York Grown for New York Kids Coalition (NYGFNYK) meeting in Clifton Park. NYGFNYK is a coalition of nearly 70 organizations and stakeholders who support increasing access to fresh, healthy, local food for students in K-12 schools. In 2018, American Farmland Trust and the NYGFNYK coalition worked closely with Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature to double funding for the Farm to School Grants program while creating a ground-breaking Farm to School incentive program which quadruples the state’s per-meal reimbursement for schools that spend 30 percent of their lunch budget on food from New York farms. In practice, these two programs work closely together to help schools purchase and serve healthier, New York grown food in school cafeterias while also supporting our state’s farmers. In the FY2020 State Budget, the coalition advocated to secure continued funding the Farm to School Incentive Program. At the September meeting, AFT presented on the 30% New York State initiative research findings. The group reviewed policy priorities and ideas for the upcoming year to build Farm to School and strengthen the 30% reimbursement initiative and discussed strategy, messaging and communication actions for 2020. HVADC partners with Poughkeepsie Farm Project for a Farm to School program with Poughkeepsie City School District and Wappingers Central School District, both of which Mary Ann also regularly interacts with and attends meetings.
Also in September, Mary Ann attended an Orange County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board meeting with farmers and Orange County legislators. Federal and state issues impacting agriculture in Orange County were discussed, with possible solutions suggested for each. Federal issues included dairy pricing policy, CBD banking and merchant services and negative impact of federal conservation reserve programs. State issues included processing and market-ready access, dairy pricing and lack of market access, hemp growing, processing and retail, labor concerns and building codes. There were issues discussed that stem from both federal and state reach, such as labor challenges, the Walkill River drainage basin, farmland protection/conservation and the Community Protection Act. Some of the solutions suggested involve funding, while others require reexamining legislation to result in a sustainable remedy. According to the board, Orange County produces agricultural products to be shipped to 25% of the US population on the eastern seaboard.
Learn more about the partnerships and long list of other groups that HVADC collaborates with at https://www.hvadc.org/partners