Lupardo secures $500K for new Ag Development Center

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With a focus on agriculture as an economic driver in the Southern Tier, plans for a new agriculture development center that will further development of the industry were unveiled Thursday. Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo joined New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard Ball and other local representatives to discuss the project. The new center is being funded through $500 thousand from the state’s Southern Tier Agricultural Industry Enhancement program as well as a $500 thousand Assembly grant secured by Lupardo.

“I am pleased to announce I was able to secure a legislative grant to match the Department of Agriculture and Markets’ funding to make the Agriculture Development Center a reality,” Lupardo said. “This new center will expand on the great work already being done at Cornell Cooperative Extension and compliment the new regional farmers market, CCE’s commercial kitchen, and Culinary School at SUNY Broome. Food production is a key component of our economic recovery and the hands-on education and training available at this center will play an integral role.”

The funding from the State and Assemblywoman Lupardo, along with funds from the Hoyt and Ahearn Foundations and an investment from CCE, will be used to renovate the Cutler House, right next door to CCE on Front St. The new facility will be home to classrooms, a commercial kitchen, and a new TasteNY market; all of which will be used to educate and train current and future food producers and help them bring their products to market.

“Cornell Cooperative Extension is here to support and assist farmers and the agricultural community,” said CCE Broome Executive Director Victoria Giarratano. “We are committed to developing a workforce to support food system production and safety. It is only with our partners from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, the New York State Assembly, Broome County government, Cornell University and our local foundations and businesses that we are positioned to grow agriculture in the Southern Tier Region. The Extension campus will become an Agricultural Food Hub, including the site of a TASTE NY store that will allow for innovative, value added production, an advanced workforce through education and certification and will serve as a conduit for the future URI Projects.”

The Agriculture Development Center will compliment a year-round regional farmers market and commercial kitchen which is in its final stages of construction behind CCE’s main building. Agriculture and food production were also one of four key initiatives in the Southern Tier’s $500 million-winning Upstate Revitalization Initiative proposal. These efforts, combined with a thriving local restaurant scene, position the Southern Tier to be a leader in food manufacturing in the future.