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Washington, DC – U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced $1,448,839 in federal funding for agricultural research and development in rural New York. The funding is provided through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), and will be used to address food insecurity and support economic development in rural agriculture. Specifically, this research will investigate solutions to increase food security through improved access to food banks, federal assistance, and engineered corn production. 

“New York’s farmers and the New York agricultural industry is the lifeblood of the state’s economy and our nation’s food supply,” said Senator Schumer. “This federal funding is an investment into our rural agriculture, helping New York State address food insecurity, especially in a time of crisis. I am proud to secure federal support, and I will not rest until New York farmers have the resources they need to help Americans get food on the table.”

“Rural communities are at the heart of New York and this funding will strengthen rural economies by providing new opportunities for our farmers and producers,” said Senator Gillibrand, member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “This critical research will strengthen the fight against food insecurity in Upstate New York and will make federal assistance widely available to all families. I will always fight for the resources our communities need to thrive.”

Cornell University received $498,839 to study the causes of rural food insecurity and identify solutions to help eligible families enroll in necessary federal assistance programs, such as SNAP. 

The Boyce Thompson Institute and the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Association, Inc. have each been awarded $475,000 to engineer corn with greater seed production and better chilling-tolerance to allow New York farmers to plant earlier for the best prices of the season. Sweet corn is worth about $40–60 million annually to New York.

As a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Senator Gillibrand has worked to protect farmers and reinforce the nation’s food supply, especially throughout the COVID-19 crisis. Last month, Senator Gillibrand introduced the Food Bank Access to Farm Fresh Produce Act, which would address disruptions in the food supply chain caused by the coronavirus pandemic and directly connect farms to food banks by providing $8 billion in block grants to food banks in the top vegetable and fruit producing states.