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County to issue agriculture grants

Rain washes the pumpkins that are for sale at Sand Flats Orchard, 371 Martin Road in Fonda in October. (The Leader-Herald/Josh Bovee)

FONDA — As agriculture plays a central role in New York and in Montgomery County’s economy, generating approximately $5 billion in revenue annually, county officials are issuing a second round of Agriculture Microenterprise Grants to help local farms continue to thrive.

According to the news release, although farms have been thriving, marketplace conditions continue to shift, therefore, farmers continue to need assistance to survive long-term. The Montgomery County Business Development Center, in partnership with the Montgomery County Soil and Waste Conservation district has issued the grants to help farmers continue to succeed in the competitive international marketplace.

“Agriculture has long been a staple of our county’s economic success. While farming trends have shifted in recent years — with the introduction of new products and a more challenging marketplace for our dairy farmers — our farmers remains a significant part of our success,” said Montgomery County Business Development Center CEO Ken Rose. “Ensuring farmers have the resources they need to support their operations ensures we continue to have a diversity of employers locally.”

Local Farms that were awarded grants during the second round of applications included: Bunkers Hemp — $25,000 for equipment; Dygert Farms Creamery — $25,000 for milk processing equipment; Family Traditions Tree Farm — $24,700 for farm equipment; Harmony Farms — $25,000 for lamb handling equipment; Hillside Farms — $20,000 for farm equipment; Montgomery Poultry Hatcher — $8,000 for farm equipment; Next Generation Dairy — $14,000 for farm equipment; Plain View Dairy — $19,000 to increase herd size; and Yurkewecz and Son Cattle — $25,000 for farm equipment.

“The Montgomery County Agriculture Microenterprise Program has enabled farms in Montgomery County to be able to receive essential financial assistance, to help keep their agri-business’s viable in a changing and challenging marketplace, for producers,” said John Vanderwerken, Montgomery County Soil and Water Conservation District Agricultural Economic Development coordinator. “Agriculture has always been a cornerstone for the county’s economy, and it is extremely important that we continue doing all we can, such as providing opportunities like this, to help our farmers to prosper and remain relevant.”

According to the release, Dygert Farms Creamery in Palatine Bridge used the $25,000 grant to purchase a new walk in cooler that will help with its upcoming bottling operations Farm co-owner Shannon Dygert.

“We are so very thankful for the funding from the Montgomery County Micro Grant,” Dygert said. “The money has helped us purchase an energy efficient walk-in cooler to store our freshly bottled milk. Grants like this have helped us get one step closer to selling our milk in stores and delivered to homes in Montgomery County and beyond.”

During the first round of funding, the Business Development Center distributed about $175,000 in grant funds, resulting in projects totaling $225,000, according to the release. Grant awards range between $5,000 and $25,000. During the first round four of the seven businesses were woman-owned businesses, with two of the businesses adding an additional full-time equivalent job.

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