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Senator Pam Helming announced Tuesday that more than $1 million has been awarded to New York State farmers through the Veterans and New Farmers Grant Funds. This includes more than $50,000 in combined investments in two Wayne County farms. Pacello Orchards received $34,474, and B.C. Ameele Fruit Farms LLC received $17,404.

"Our local farmers are the economic drivers of our communities. They provide job opportunities for hundreds of people and provide our families with fresh, nutritious foods and dairy products. It is important that as a state, we continue to support our agricultural community. The New Farmers Grant program is just one way we can encourage and support the next generation of farm owners. I was especially happy to support this particular program because it assists our veterans who are transitioning from military duty to civilian life. I congratulate two local farms, Pacello Orchards and B.C. Ameele Fruit Farms, on earning grants that will provide funding to help their operations grow," Helming said.

Pacello Orchards in Lyons will use its funding to purchase field equipment in order to increase efficiencies at the orchard. B.C. Ameele Fruit Farms LLC in Williamson will use its funds to plant trees and trellis systems to expand their apple orchard. The New Farmers Grant Fund is in its fifth round, while this is the first year the Veterans Grant Fund has been available. The New Farmers Grant Fund is intended to help applicants improve the profitability of their farm and encourage farming as a career path. In order to be eligible, farmers must be within the first 10 years of having any ownership interest in the farm and must have a minimum of $10,000 in sales of farm products. To qualify for the Veterans Grant Fund, at least 50 percent of the farm business must be owned, operated, and controlled by a veteran as defined in the program guidelines. The farm must also have a minimum of $10,000 in farm income, though this program is not limited to beginning farmers.

"The New Farmer and Military Veteran grant programs are worthy investments into the future of agriculture in New York. They can serve as seed money to help farms get off the ground. At the same time, this is a way to give back to the brave men and women who have honorably served the people of our state and country. Their technical skills and work ethic can easily be put to good use on the farm. New York Farm Bureau appreciates Helming's and the Legislative Commission on Rural Resources' support for these valuable programs," New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher said.

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