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Ritchie’s Young Farmers NY plan gets Senate approval

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A “Young Farmers NY” plan championed by state Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, that aims to encourage young people’s involvement in farming was approved as part of the Senate’s state budget plan that also included about $9 million for programs to help farmers.

That amount is the largest increase in support for agricultural research, marketing and educational programs in at least six years, a release from Mrs. Ritchie’s office said.

Provisions included in the Young Farmers NY plan include:

n A $5 million revolving loan fund to help farmers starting out buy land and equipment, as well as tax credits to give retiring farmers an incentive to sell their business to farmers, rather than to developers.

n $1 million in innovation grants for startup funding for novice farmers.

n Farm Savings Accounts to encourage families to save for buying a first farm.

n An apprentice program for beginning farmers administered by local Boards of Cooperative Educational Services.

n Student loan forgiveness.

n Increased funding for high school-based agricultural education.

“To keep farms growing from generation to generation, we need to break down some of the barriers to young farmers, such as the high cost of farmland and equipment, education and red tape,” Mrs. Ritchie said in the release.

A list of organizations and projects in the plan’s funding can be found at http://wdt.me/fwUpC5.

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