Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Agriculture Economic Workshops Press Release

March Road Tour: 4 Cities. 6 Workshops. 24 Opportunities to Grow NY Agriculture.

State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick H. Brennan announced "March Road Tour," a series of workshops that will enhance the awareness and understanding of economic resources available for the agricultural industry.

"Over the past eleven years, Governor Pataki has established numerous programs and incentives to assist farmers and agri-businesses in New York State," Commissioner Brennan said. "We want to make sure these resources are known and thoroughly understood, so they can be utilized effectively on the local level. I encourage anyone interested in agriculture, from farmers to local elected officials, to take the time to attend one of these sessions and learn what the Department of Agriculture and Markets has to offer you and your business."

The free sessions will run from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the following dates and locations.
• Tuesday, March 14 Canton Best Western, Canton
• Wednesday, March 22 New York State Fairgrounds, Syracuse
• Thursday, March 23 Batavia Days Inn, Batavia
• Wednesday, March 29 Suffolk Co. Cooperative Extension, Riverhead

The focus of the forum will be to provide first-hand knowledge about agricultural economic development resources that can help maintain and grow agriculture in New York State. The Commissioner will speak at the general session, followed by two breakout sessions where participants will have the option to pick one workshop for each session. Following are workshop titles and descriptions:

MORNING SESSIONS

• Local Farmland Protection: Get pointers from the pros about the Agricultural and Farmland Protection Program that helps municipalities implement farmland protection and agricultural viability activities.

• Agricultural Economic Development Programs: Local agricultural processors, manufacturers and producers will get the inside scoop on assistance available for financing their business plans and projects through the Empire Zone program; Beginning Farmer Loan Program; and Grow NY Enterprise loans and grants.

• Programs in Marketing and Promotion: Whether your target is a local farmers’ market or the international marketplace, technical assistance and funding are available to you at no or low cost. Learn more about Pride of New York; direct marketing; Food Export USA; and New York pavilions at national shows.

AFTERNOON SESSIONS

• Planning for Agriculture: Learn how to proactively assure the future of farmland and participate in a question and answer session on municipal compliance with the Agricultural Districts Law and the Law’s effect on comprehensive plans and land use laws and ordinances.

• Successful Grantsmanship: Agricultural producers, processors and professionals interested in applying for grant programs will learn the do’s and don’ts of grant writing as well as the Department’s specific scoring criteria.

• Bootstrap Marketing: Get an introduction to marketing on a budget including branding, public relations, electronic marketing, and customer retention. Learn how the customer sees your products, what you can do to improve your brand, how you can find free marketing tools and do market research.

Anyone interested in agriculture, including farmers, planners, economic developers, government leaders and financial institutions, is encouraged to attend these sessions. Please register no later than March 3, 2006. Registration forms are available on the Department’s website or by calling 518-457-0752. Lunch will be offered to all participants for $10.

The March Road Tour is sponsored by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets in association with Food Export USA; American Farmland Trust; Governor’s Office of Small Cities; New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation; Cornell Cooperative Extension; New York Farm Bureau; and New York State Association of Towns.

New York agriculture encompasses 25 percent of the State’s landscape and generates more than $3 billion for our economy each year. Currently, New York State has 7.6 million acres of farmland with 36,000 farms.

For more information , contact Jessica Chittenden, 518-457-3136

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