Representative Sean Patrick Maloney announced new legislation to help support the next generation of Hudson Valley farmers.

Following a roundtable discussion with Hudson Valley farmers at Soons Orchard in April and extensive discussion with his agricultural advisory board, Maloney announced the Beginning Farmer Agenda Act.

The bill would invest in land conservation to help new farmers acquire land, add new resources for farmers at USDA, and invest in the development of local and regional food systems.

“Our hardworking farmers create thousands of jobs and bring back over one hundred million dollars a year to our Hudson Valley economy,” said Maloney in a statement. “We need the next generation to power this incredible economic engine, but too often beginning farmers are feeling shut out. They deserve a government that is willing to be their partner. Working together to give our young and beginning farmers the tools they need to succeed, we can continue to grow local foods and jobs while powering our local economy for generations to come.”

According to the most recent census data, agriculture showed a 4.3% decline in the number of principal farmers since 2007. The report also found that the average age of principal farmers has continued to rise, causing concern that the industry is not attracting enough new farmers.

"Nearly 30% of all farmers in New York are over 65 and will be transitioning out of farming in coming years, which puts their land at risk of being paved over by real estate development,” said David Haight, American Farmland Trust's New York State Director. “At the same time, there is a diverse community of beginning farmers looking to get into farming but needing help in finding farmland and launching successful businesses.”

“New farmers in their 20s and 30s often face significant, if not impossible, financial challenges to beginning a career in agriculture,” said Assemblyman James Skoufis. “Congressman Maloney’s legislation is critical to assisting our next generation of farmers develop their careers, preserve open space, and feed the millions of people in our region.”

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