ALBANY – The State Senate Committees on Agriculture, Labor and Social Services, Tuesday, held a virtual public hearing to discuss food insecurity in the state and inequality in the agriculture sector.
Poughkeepsie Common Council Chair Sarah Salem, who is also the director of Development for Dutchess Outreach, said the state has made a significant contribution with the Nourish New York program and the last budget’s increase in funding to it, but there needs to be more long-term solutions and portions of agriculture budget earmarked for BIPOC (black, indigenous and people-of-color) farmers.
“Fund farmers, especially BIPOC farmers. Fund communities, especially historically oppressed and marginalized populations and incentivize the purchase of local foods throughout communities. Help to fund food policy councils, so that folks can proudly make their own food choices,” said Salem.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Michelle Hinchey (D-Saugerties) said increasing the diversity and amount of farmers within the state is a major priority.
“We can’t address food insecurity without looking at our food system as a whole and today we’re working hard to start doing that,” she said. “We need more farmers to help increase our food system and we need diverse farmers to help produce diverse and culturally relevant foods, so that individuals across our state have access to farm-fresh foods regardless of where they live across our state. New York, as we know, is an Ag state and we need to work to make sure that our agriculture sector is diverse as the people it’s feeding,” she said.
Panelists and speakers suggested that an invest on behalf of the state into BIPOC operations could help supplement the current aging out of farmers in the state and increase fresh produce availability to underserved and city areas across the state.