If your New York-based agricultural business could use a financial boost, consider applying for a piece of the $750,000 in grants from New York’s Regional Economic Development Council Competition.

The grants are available through the Genesee Valley Regional Market Authority for research, education and promotion projects. The goal of the program is to help the state’s ag industries grow, so the projects must support vital research and marketing of agricultural commodities, including maple, craft beverages and agritourism activities.

The Finger Lakes Wine Alliance promotes 35 wineries in the region. For the past two years, the organization has received grants of $15,000 each year from the state approved by the Genesee Valley Regional Market Authority to fund its Riesling Roadshow program, a program that takes winery products to several cities.

Eric Frarey, director of Finger Lakes Wine Alliance, said that the grants “helped us broadcast our reach.”

The grants allowed the organization to create handouts and support materials for education and procure locations in Buffalo, Rochester and Ithaca, New York, and also in Philadelphia and Cleveland for tasting and educational events.

“We’re getting out the message that the Finger Lakes is a great place to visit and we make quality wines and have a lot of family owned businesses,” Frarey said. “Without the grants, it would make it difficult to execute this program.”

He said that the promotion has increased sales for all the member wineries.

Frarey encourages agricultural organizations to apply for the grants.

“You need to have a clear target and be well organized,” Frarey said. “The folks at Genesee Valley Regional Market Authority are open to ideas as long as they are leveraged to increase business. They have been really easy to work with and they’re great partners.”

Frarey is also a managing partner at Heron Hill Winery, which operates tasting rooms and shops in Canandaigua, Himrod and Hammondsport, New York.

“We are thankful for these investments and for the GVRMA’s support of agriculture and its related industries,” said Richard A. Ball, New York state agriculture commissioner in a release. “These resources, while based in the Genesee Valley, will help our farms and food and beverage businesses across New York state through valuable education, research and promotion, allowing our producers to be more competitive and reach more consumers.”

Agriculture represents one of the state’s top industries, contributing $2.4 billion to the state’s gross domestic product in 2017 and leading nationally for production of 15 popular farm products, including cottage cheese, sour cream and yogurt.

The grants will go to organizations in Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Steuben, Wayne, Wyoming and Yates counties.

“The long-term sustainability of New York’s agricultural industry is tied to strategic investments that support valuable research, development and education-based projects, which can, in turn, foster innovation and have a positive, transformative effect for farms and agribusinesses across the state,” said Jen Metzger, New York State Senate Agriculture Committee chair, in a release. “While this funding is tailored to the Genesee Valley, it will provide important benchmarks for productivity that can guide farms and our ever-growing roster of craft beverage manufacturers across New York state who are interested in beginning or expanding an agritourism operation or diversifying what they grow.”

In addition, the GVRMA Board awarded grants the following projects to help promote the and market New York’s agricultural industry:

• Cornell AgriTech — $400,000 for the research and development of agricultural products.

• Cornell University — $50,000 for agricultural workforce development programming as it relates to farm employee onboarding, housing management, supervisory leadership development and employee law compliance.

• Finger Lakes Wine Alliance — $15,000 for promotion of NYS Rieslings in the Buffalo, Rochester and Albany markets.

• Cornell Cooperative Extension of Monroe County — $15,000 to support Monroe County farmers in their efforts to create and promote agritourism on their farms.

• Empire State Potato Growers Association — $7,500 for the marketing and promotion of New York state grown potatoes.

• Ontario County Agricultural Society — $15,000 for the installation of infrastructure to support an agricultural building at the Ontario County Fairgrounds.

• Bishop Kearney High School — $15,000 for infrastructure and educational materials for students to learn the importance of sustainable agriculture and develop a deeper understanding of the food that they consume.

• Western New York Maple Producers Association — $15,000 to acquire a mobile maple exhibit and facilitate a maple education program.

Since 2011, Genesee Valley Regional Market Authority has awarded approximately $8.75 million to more than 80 projects in the Genesee Valley through the Agriculture Development Grant Program.

To apply for the grant, visit regionalcouncils.ny.gov. The deadline to apply is July 26.

Deborah Jeanne Sergeant is a freelance writer in central New York. Email her at deb@skilledquill.net.


According to USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, farmers in New York had planted, as of May 10, 29% of their barley (23% in 2019), 8% corn (less than 5% in 2019), 36% oats (26% in 2019), 17% onions (16% in 2019), and no soybeans (the same in 2019). Read more