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Two state programs aim to help new farmers

New York State officials announced two initiatives Tuesday to support local agriculture and ease startup costs for the next generation of farmers.

A $614,000 program will provide up to $50,000 in matching grants for new farmers to buy equipment, seed and other supplies. Applications are due Jan. 28.

The second program will pay down up to $50,000 in student loans for farmers who recently graduated from a New York State college or university. Applications for that effort are due Dec. 15.

Separately, the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council has applied for $1 million in state funding to help young farmers in Suffolk County buy equipment. State officials are expected to announce later this fall whether Long Island will receive the funding.

"We have a lot of new farmers here," said Karen Rivara, president of the Long Island Farm Bureau. "So anything that can help them would be valuable."

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