Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today launched the New York State Grown & Certified program and announced a new $20 million food hub in the Bronx to increase access to farm-fresh produce. The New York State Grown & Certified program identifies and promotes New York producers who adhere to New York’s food safety and environmental sustainability programs, and assures consumers that the food they are buying is local and produced at a higher-standard. To support the new certification program and increase access to farm-fresh food, the State is also building a state-of-the-art food hub that significantly expands distribution capacity, provides new markets for farmers, and creates 95 permanent jobs and 150 construction jobs in Hunts Point.
“New York State agriculture is an essential pillar of our economy, bolstered by the modern market demands for safer and more sustainable food,” Governor Cuomo said. “The New York Grown & Certified Program strengthens the link between producers and consumers and provides new opportunities for agricultural development. By connecting Upstate farmers to new markets with a state-of-the-art food hub and promoting the consumption of healthy and environmentally conscious food, these initiatives will have extraordinary environmental, nutritional and economic benefits for all New Yorkers.”
New York State Grown & Certified
Studies show that public interest in safe and healthy foods continues to grow, yet consumer trust in food has eroded significantly. New York’s vibrant agriculture and food industries position the state to set a national example for providing consumers with transparent and meaningful information about the food they purchase and eat. Now, with New York State Grown & Certified is the first state program in the nation to combine modern food safety standards with environmental stewardship to achieve a premium level of certification. By certifying food at this level, New York is providing consumers with an assurance of quality in how and where the food is grown and produced, while promoting New York State producers who are meeting a growing market demand for foods that are safely handled and grown in an environmentally responsible manner.
More than 100 qualifying farms from across New York State already expressed interest before New York State Grown & Certified officially launched today. The Department of Agriculture and Markets will work with New York State producers across all commodities to assist them in qualifying for the voluntary certification program. To ensure maximum environmental sustainability and food safety, participation in existing certification programs, including the State’s Agricultural Environmental Management program and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Good Agricultural Practices program, is required for participation in New York State Grown & Certified.
A new marketing campaign will promote awareness of the program and highlight New York producers who meet New York State Grown & Certified standards. The marketing campaign includes on-product labels and promotional materials, such as a New York State Grown & Certified website, video and sales materials, to encourage program participation among producers and to educate retail and wholesale buyers – such as restaurants – on the value of the program. Consumer advertising and retail promotion will begin this fall.
The Governor’s Safe and Healthy Foods Advisory Committee and its subcommittees were instrumental in providing input and guidance on the various components of the New York State Grown & Certified program, including efforts to address food product mislabeling and expanded food safety testing to ensure top-notch monitoring of the food supply chain. The committee and subcommittee members consist of some of the nation’s top experts in food production and consumer advocacy. A complete list of the subcommittees and their members is available here.
Building New Greenmarket Regional Food Hub in the Bronx
In response to the Food Hub Task Force Report, Governor Cuomo announced that New York State is investing $15 million in the construction of a new $20 million Greenmarket Regional Food Hub in the Bronx. The state-of-the-art, 120,000 square foot facility will increase New Yorkers’ access to fresh, locally grown and produced food. The Greenmarket Regional Food Hub will also support farms that are New York State Grown & Certified by promoting their local products to restaurants and institutional buyers. The Food Hub will create 95 permanent jobs and 150 construction jobs.
The Greenmarket Regional Food Hub will be located in the Hunts Point neighborhood in the Bronx and will include a wholesale farmers’ market, a cold storage facility for farmers, a food-processing center and other infrastructure to support local food businesses. The new food hub will work with a range of small- and mid-sized farms, providing unprecedented access to New York City’s wholesale marketplace. The processing facility will also assist Upstate producers and processors in targeting institutional and private sector procurement opportunities. In addition, the food hub will facilitate the expansion of farmers’ markets and youth markets in underserved communities.
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. said, “The brand new Greenmarket Regional Food Hub will play a major role in healthier lives for Bronx residents, while also strengthening our business community and creating local jobs, as well. I congratulate Governor Andrew Cuomo for bringing this much anticipated, critical new amenity to The Bronx.”
New York State Agriculture Commissioner Ball said, “New York State Grown & Certified is a commitment to assure New Yorkers that New York State maintains a high degree of vigilance over the food supply. The Governor recognizes that we have some of the best fruit and vegetable producers in the nation who take great care in producing foods that are safely handled and who are doing so in an environmentally sound way, and it’s a message we want to communicate to our consumers.”
Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “The new Greenmarket Regional Food Hub will not only increase access to fresh, healthy foods in NYC’s underserved neighborhoods, it will create new jobs and provide a great opportunity for our hardworking farmers to distribute local produce and expand their businesses throughout New York State.”
New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, “Information about how the food we eat, including how it is grown and where it comes from, will help New Yorkers make healthy and environmentally responsible choices. Governor Cuomo realizes this, and is again showing his commitment to the health of residents across the state through this innovative program.”
New York State Restaurant Association President and CEO Melissa Autilio Fleischut said, “Now more than ever, restaurant patrons are mindful of the food they eat, where it comes from, and how it is grown. Food safety and sustainable agricultural practices have never been more important. That is why the NYS Restaurant Association proudly supports Governor Cuomo’s new initiative —“New York State Grown & Certified”— so consumers can feel more confident about what they eat and where they are eating, and to provide a real benefit to New York State’s food industry.”
Food Industry Alliance President Michael Rosen said, “The New York State Grown & Certified Program sets voluntary standards that will provide a significant marketing advantage to farmers who participate. Retailers will want to offer these products to their customers because it sets the gold standard for both food safety and environmental stewardship.”
New York Farm Bureau President Dean Norton said, “New York products are second to none as they come off the farm. Our farmers work to produce safe, affordable food in an environmentally responsible way, and it benefits our growers when they are recognized for that hard work. The more consumers understand the importance of buying New York food, the better it is for them and their families and the state’s agricultural community.”
Empire State Potato Growers Inc. Executive Director Melanie Wickham said, “New York potato growers are stewards of the environment using innovative strategies to protect our land and water. They utilize sustainable crop management practices and the newest varieties. Most are GAP certified, ensuring consumers are getting potatoes that are grown using good agricultural practices and following food safety guidelines. A vehicle like the New York State Grown & Certified Program provides consumers assurances and reminds them that New York potato growers share their commitment to quality and food safety.”
New York Apple Association President Jim Allen said, “The NY apple industry prides itself on our food safety record. Our apple growers and shippers presently adhere to and comply with a number of on-farm Good Agricultural Practices and third part audits. Meeting and exceeding food safety standards for the NY apple industry is standard procedure, and having a New York State Grown & Certified Program to now identify those practices is yet another tool that NY agriculture can be proud of.”
The Food Hub Task Force
Following the State’s first-ever Farm to Table Upstate-Downstate Agriculture Summit, the Governor committed to working with local partners to develop a wholesale farmers’ market downstate. In addition, the New York State-New York City Regional Food Hubs Task Force, convened at the direction of the Governor and also announced at the Upstate-Downstate Summit, placed a high priority on a regional food hub as part of its final action plan.
The Task Force was charged with developing a roadmap to build a Regional Food Hub System, which will enhance the connection between upstate food producers and the downstate market, increase access to fresh food for underserved populations, boost in-state food production and consumption, and create new job opportunities in the growing sector of food manufacturing. The final Food Hub Task Force Action Plan and its recommendations are available here.