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Peconic Land Trust Announces Completion of “Farmers for the Future” Capital Program

August 16, 2018

$1 Million in Regional Economic Development Grants from New York State Supported Operations on 57 Long Island Farms

Southampton, NY — The Peconic Land Trust is pleased to announce the successful completion of its Farmers for the Future Capital Program (aka the Long Island Agricultural Capital Equipment Grant Program) funded by a $1 million grant from the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council (LIREDC), through Empire State Development (ESD).

Launched in 2015 and administered by the Trust with support from the Long Island Community Foundation, this three-year program awarded $1 million in funding to 57 new and established farmers across Nassau and Suffolk Counties for capital improvements and equipment necessary to begin production, diversify crops, and meet safety and regulatory standards.

This ESD catalyst grant incentivized farmers to invest over $5 million in the agricultural industry on Long Island. The program reimbursed farmers for 20% of their expenditures, up to $50,000, toward the purchase of new and used capital equipment and infrastructure. The farmers and their capital expenditures were carefully verified and vetted for eligibility and suitability for cost sharing by the Trust and its partners.

The grants ranged from a few hundred dollars to $50,000 and included 16 new farm operations, 22 operations in transition, and 18 expanding operations. Investments included tractors, deer fencing, refrigerated containers, irrigation equipment, green-energy upgrades, generators, motors, high tunnels, oyster cages, seeders and spreaders, road upgrades, wash facilities, and more.

“We are honored to have been given the opportunity to provide working farms with access to capital to support their businesses. The program has been a tremendous success, underwriting $1 million of the total $5 million investment by farmers in our Long Island agricultural economy,” said John v.H. Halsey, President, Peconic Land Trust. “Our thanks to Governor Andrew Cuomo, Empire State Development and the members of the LI Regional Economic Development Council for making this possible. We also thank our partners in this effort – the Long Island Community Foundation, Suffolk County Economic Development and Planning, the Long Island Farm Bureau, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, Cornell University’s Long Island Horticultural Research & Extension Center, Farm Credit East, Long Island Wine Council and Edible East End – for their support of the grant program and our staff.”

Grant recipient testimonials follow. The Farmers for the Future Capital Program was managed under the Peconic Land Trust’s Farms for the Future Initiative. We are especially thankful to the Long Island Community Foundation for supporting the Trust’s administrative costs related to this program. For more testimonials and information on our Farms for the Future Initiative, visit www.peconiclandtrust.org/AgCap

Matt Schmitt, Schmitt Farms: “Receiving this grant has been vital to our growing business. After working for years to increase our output and expand our ability to distribute, we found ourselves at a standstill without the capital to take the next step. Since receiving the grant we have been able to purchase the equipment necessary to facilitate more efficient production and make upgrades to our facility which allow for greater distribution.”

Peter Stein, Peeko Oyster: “The Ag Capital Grant has been a catalyst for Peeko Oysters. It has greatly accelerated our timeline for scaling our business. Growing oysters at scale requires significant infrastructure and equipment. With the Ag Capital Grant’s support in acquiring and implementing the much needed equipment, we are now well on our way to having an efficient and sustainable business.”

Charles Massoud, Paumanok Vineyards: “In any business there are desirable projects which do not always have a good financial justification. One such example is solar power. Even though prices of solar technology have come down it will still take many years for such an installation to break even. Yet it is very desirable as it reduces the use of fossil fuel as well as our dependency on the power utility. A grant will usually help improve the financial cost justification making it a more attractive investment. The payback benefits the business for sure but it is also a gift to the community as the carbon emissions are reduced for everyone.”

Mark Zaweski, MKZ Farms: “This is the disc harrow purchased with my grant money. In recent years I have been transitioning to chisel plowing instead of mold board plowing in an effort to break through the plow pan created by years of conventional plowing. By doing this I am seeing better drainage in my fields and also increases in organic matter. Chisel plowing leaves a tremendous amount of residue on the surface and this disc does a great job at incorporating the rye residue into the upper layer of soil versus plowing it down deep.”

Founded in 1983, Peconic Land Trust conserves Long Island’s working farms, natural lands, and heritage. Since its inception, the nonprofit Trust has worked conscientiously with landowners, communities, municipalities, partner organizations, and donors, to conserve approximately 12,000 acres of land on Long Island. The Trust’s professional staff carries out the necessary research and planning to identify and implement alternatives to outright development. While working to conserve the productive farms, watersheds, woodlands, and beachfront of Long Island, the Trust is also protecting the unique rural heritage and natural resources of the region. For more information about the Peconic Land Trust, visit peconiclandtrust.org.

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