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Erie County growers receiving November 2022 winter storm grants; agriculture plan being updated


Thu, Apr 18th 2024 08:40 pm

Erie County made $2 million in grants available for farms and agribusinesses impacted by historic storm; $1.1 million has been distributed

√ Erie County Department of Environment and Planning highlights ongoing Agriculture and Farmland Protection Plan update

Submitted by the Press Secretary to the County Executive 

Erie County growers are receiving much-needed help from Erie County in recovering from the historic November 2022 winter storm, which left up to 7 feet of snow in spots across the county and severely impacted farms and agribusinesses. The county’s November storm fund set aside $2 million in aid for growers affected by the storm to help them recover from damage to greenhouses and other agribusiness infrastructure. Through the end of March, grants have been awarded to 16 local farmers totaling $1.1 million. Some of the local farmers who have received funds include Miller's Farm Market in Hamburg, Kwilos Farm in Evans, and Bengert Greenhouses in West Seneca.

“The November storm fund is helping growers recover from a devastating winter storm that damaged greenhouses and wreaked havoc with much of their businesses,” Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said. “Agriculture is an important sector of the county’s economy, and supporting these farms makes good sense for all, helping these businesses resume their productivity.”

Poloncarz was joined today at Miller’s Farm Market by Commissioner of Environment and Planning Dan Castle, Connie Bauer of Miller’s Market, Mark Gaston of the Erie County Soil & Water Conservation District, and Legislator John Mills (11th District). The November storm fund program is being administered by Erie County Soil & Water Conservation District.

Bauer said, “Here at Miller’s, we had significant damage to our greenhouses and other buildings, and the county grant helped us get back into production more quickly.”

November storm grant funds can be used to offset various repair costs associated with damages incurred during the winter storm. Eligible costs include those related to farm and agribusiness facilities, capital assets, machinery, equipment and structures. The program will remain open until funds are expended and awards are made monthly. Farmers and encouraged to apply and can contact Mark Gaston at the Erie County Soil and Water Conservation District for more information.

Erie County’s Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan guides county efforts to support local farms and protect our most productive farmland. Since the plan's adoption 10 years ago, the agricultural landscape in the county has changed significantly.

Changes in weather patterns, increased land development pressures, more competitive market forces, the need for agricultural workforce development, the growth of urban farms, and the need to transition to the next generation of farm landowners are all issues that have evolved significantly in the past decade.

“With this updated plan, we hope to realize a refreshed vision for Erie County agriculture and provide direction to the county and municipalities regarding farmland protection,” Castle said. “There are many opportunities for interested growers and others to add their input as the update continues, and we encourage them to do so.”

Focus groups have been held in April for the plan update. A landowner survey is also available to interested growers. Their input is sought through April 30.

Anyone interested in project updates is encouraged to visit the site to sign up to receive project updates. The Department of Environment and planning anticipates additional focus groups will be held later in 2024, in late summer or early fall.

For more information on the Erie County Department of Environment and Planning, visit https://www3.erie.gov/environment/; or on the Erie County Soil and Water Conservation District, visit https://ecswcd.org/.

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