2024 Annual Membership Meeting

The 2024 Annual Membership Meeting will be held on Sunday, January 21 at 1:00 pm at the Marriott Syracuse Downtown directly following the Winter Conference.

This meeting is an opportunity for all NOFA-NY members to contribute to the strategic direction of our organization by voting on Board of Directors nominations and policy resolutions.

Board Member Nominees

Board members come from the membership of NOFA-NY and may serve up to two consecutive three-year terms. Each year members are asked to submit nominations to the Board, which are then reviewed by the Board of Directors and voted on by the membership at the annual meeting.

There are currently 11 directors on the board, out of a maximum of 15 set by the Bylaws. Five directors will have their Board terms end on February 2024, leaving nine open seats. Therefore all 8 nominees may be elected to the Board if they each receive a majority of votes cast.

Each of the following nominees is running for their first term.

Ben Hoyer, a native of Binghamton, grew up in Iowa where his mom’s family has farmed since before the Civil War. Some of his fondest childhood memories are of going out to the farm to sit up in the combine, watch the pigs, or run terrified from his Uncle’s German Shepherds. Yet, it wasn’t until moving back to New York in the 1990’s that he discovered his own connection to the land and the joy of growing organic, healthy food for family and community. Ben spent two years as a volunteer farm laborer before purchasing his own 40 acres in Dutchess County on which he brought a promising young farmer to help get started out. While both farmer and land moved on (the young farmer’s growing success led them to a larger plot), the appreciation for growing, and the tireless work farmers put in under all conditions, remain.

Professionally, Ben’s background is in investments and finance as analyst, portfolio manager, and CFO. After leaving the for-profit investment world, he spent five years in a consulting capacity in the non-profit performing arts industry where he designed data surveys and financial models to help organizations’ managements and boards better understand the drivers of their businesses, and how to interpret the overall financial condition as presented in their financial statements. Ben’s current position is with the Wildlife Conservation Society, based in the Bronx, where he designs innovative financial solutions for conservation projects globally. Due to the connection between agricultural commodity growing and deforestation, he works with farmers around the world- from coffee growers in Bolivia to coconut growers in Indonesia- on funding improved livelihoods and training in good agricultural practices.

Ben has been a NOFA member for nearly ten years and a participant on the policy committee for the last several years on which he has authored or edited policy positions and supported NOFA policy staff on lobbying calls.

Ben and his wife live in Westchester County where they raised two children, now in college. He is a graduate, summa cum laude, of SUNY Purchase in philosophy and mathematics.

I am a founding partner and senior trial attorney at Chesney, Nicholas, & Brower, LLP, where I focus my practice on counseling and representing clients in general defense litigation. I grew up in Whitestone, Queens, and moved to Syosset, Long Island where I raised my children. I still live in that home today. I have always had an interest in nature, animals, and farming. Unfortunately, with genetically modified foods and factory farming, we have come a long way from our connection to basic, wholesome, and natural foods that nourish us the way we were intended to live and flourish. I have served on the board of Slow Food East End, which was quite rewarding. Even in this fast-paced society, I was always one to slow things down and prepare a nutritious organic meal with local ingredients. My very good friend operates a small, organic, local farm in Huntington where I obtain most of my produce. We often forget about the basics in life that promote health and balance us; sunlight, proper sleep, organic/local foods. I am a litigation attorney, which can be a stressful occupation, but I make sure that I take the time to reconnect with nature, properly prepare a meal, and do my best to ingest local/organic foods. For the above reasons, I am interested in becoming a board member, since I am well aligned with the mission statement of NOFA-NY. Thank you for your consideration.

My husband and I are co-owners of La Basse Cour, a small, diversified family farm in Delaware County in the western Catskills. We strive to farm and to live in harmony with Nature and have been working toward community-centered agriculture and food justice here for almost 20 years. We raise chickens for eggs, sheep and goats for fiber, vegetables and hay using organic and regenerative practices along with our horses, cows and ducks, host farm stays and tours, and operate a community textile studio on our farm. 

We are members of NOFA NY and I am a member of the Policy and Soil Health Committees. Through these committees and attending the last two virtual conferences with great relish, I have been able to get to know the organization, its impact, and its potential. 

I am particularly interested in the intersection of climate change, biodiversity and agriculture, and Nature-based practices that also enhance food quality and productivity, community health, and farmer success.  I recently joined the conversation at NOFA NY on payment for ecosystem services which has great potential as part of a larger effort to address climate change and biodiversity loss while restoring soil and water quality and growing nutritious food. Thus I am working to put together a talk and a panel at the upcoming NOFA NY Winter Conference to continue to explore these ideas and practices in community with others. 

I am currently a member of the Farmer Advisory Board for Catskill Agrarian Alliance, a member of the board of the Michael Kudish Natural History Preserve, and a member of the board of the Heart of the Catskills Humane Society. I am also a Master Gardener and a Master Forest Owner Volunteer as a way to bring these ideas one-on-one to members of the non-farming community.  

I was born and raised in New York, spending time between upstate and downstate until college. Prior to returning here to this life of farming and community, I was an engineer and manager working in industry with various global corporate experiences for over 20 years. I am also educated in business and in nonprofit management, worked in food security in Philadelphia and served on a number of non-profit boards there. I also did a bit of teaching and ran a consulting practice focused on non-profit management. I believe I have a lot to offer NOFA NY, especially at this time of change, strategic planning, and hiring a new executive and would be honored to serve as a member of the board if elected. 

Jack Algiere is a lifelong organic farmer and the Chief Agroecology Officer at Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture. He has designed and implemented the agricultural vision of the Farm ecosystem since its founding in 2003, including the guiding principles that integrate a diverse collection of farming enterprises including organic specialty field crops, soil greenhouse, perennial landscape, multi-species livestock, mixed grain and row crops. Through local, state, academic and other professional partnerships he has co-established a center of regional food systems R&D founded on agroecological values. Jack is a thought leader, trainer & consultant, partnership builder and innovator in support of transformational change in regional food systems.  

Jacob Gigler-Caro is the Executive Director of Salt City Harvest Farm in Kirkville, NY. In his role, he has grown organizational capacity and developed a diverse skill set needed to lead an organization. He has facilitated visioning exercises, built relationships with local foundations, led agricultural programs, and understands financial reports. Additionally, he has a background in multimedia creation. He believes there needs to be more transparency in the food system and that the organic label is a great start.

Jacob has been growing food in different capacities over the past 16 years, first finding his love for food in Chicago community gardens. Since then, he has worked alongside communities in California, Wisconsin, and North Carolina growing food and managing farms at a variety of scales. Through his travels he has gained a deep knowledge of diverse agricultural practices. Through his work he strives to help people nourish the natural relationship we share with the land, the waters, our food, and ultimately each other.

He is on a continuous quest to share what he has learned with others; with the intention of breaking down stereotypes, bringing people together, and deepening our relationship with the cosmos. He is a strong leader who strives to inspire others towards building equitable food communities.

I was raised on a small dairy farm, as was my husband. When we married in 2005, we began our own certified organic farm, working 800 acres of field crops including: corn, small grains (barley, oats, rye, spelt and triticale), soybeans, buckwheat, hay and cover crops. We built our dairy facility and raised heifers to begin shipping milk to Organic Valley through NFO (National Farmers Organization) in 2014. We milk 60 cows and raise our own replacement heifers. I do the farm bookkeeping and enjoy assisting with crop rotation planning and achieving farm goals. My favorite contribution to our operation is baling 1000+ large square bales of hay each summer, and rotational grazing our dairy herd. NOFA-NY LLC has always been our certification agency and we are NOFA-NY org members. 

I received my BS in Applied Science in Nursing from Robert’s Wesleyan College in 2007 and spent 11 years working at our local hospital as a labor/delivery/postpartum nurse. I now farm full time and have an on farm, year-round store, Hemlock Ridge Farm Market featuring our own beef, chicken, maple syrup, eggs, in-season vegetables, locally produced grains, and other organic bulk food items. I am a member of the ASCFG (Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers) and specialize in A La Carte weddings featuring farm grown in season blooms, bouquet CSA and wholesale flower sales. I start my own seedlings for the flower and vegetable gardens, 5000 seedlings annually. I also host our farm Airbnb, a period one-room schoolhouse, built in 1880.

My husband Kelvin and I are raising and homeschooling our 4 children (ages 12 years – 6 months), I am an active volunteer with Steuben County Master Gardener program, and a leader for the Wheeler Busy Bees 4-H Club. My other interests include our English Shepherd farm dogs and Morgan horses, sewing and quilting. My strengths include problem solving, brainstorming, goal setting and facilitating meaningful conversations that lead to achievable outcomes. Thank you for considering me for the NOFA-NY board. 

Currently, I serve as a Sustainability Coordinator for my hometown of the City of New Rochelle, NY. I am also a NYS-licensed attorney. I graduated from the University of Delaware with a B.S. in environmental economics and agribusiness management degrees. Upper-level farm policy courses encouraged me to attend law school to better understand how benefits and costs are allocated and realized. I graduated from the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University in 2019 with a JD and an Advanced Certificate in Environmental Law, and again, in 2023 with an LLM in Environmental Law – Specialization in Advanced Land Use and Sustainable Development Law. At Pace, I participated in the Food and Farm Business Law Clinic by advising a small farm and a small farm support organization. After law school, I served at the NYS Dept. of Agriculture & Markets as an Attorney Excelsior Fellow. I am a member of two community gardens and assist a high school’s new beekeeping club. I am also a lifelong ice hockey player who’s passionate about nature, food, farming, and sustainability. Thank you for this opportunity to serve on NOFA-NY’s board of directors and advance organic agriculture. 

I have been growing things since I was 8 years old.  I entered my vegetables in the 4H contests at the local county fair for several years and continued gardening until going to college. I earned an AAS degree in Forest Technology from Syracuse University, Wanakena Campus. Then I worked 3 years in forest-related jobs until matriculating at Cornell where I earned a BS majoring in Vegetable Crops. After graduating I worked 2 years for a large commercial vegetable farm and then my wife and I began farming on our own from scratch. I began as a diversified conventional farm with hogs, multiple veggies, and grains. In 2008 I began to transition my 1700 acre farm to organic. By 2021 we were fully organic and continued to grow many different crops on 900 acres. In 2021 I sold most of my farm to another organic producer rather than put it out for bid. I wanted to be sure my land would remain organic and that my dedicated employees would have seamless employment.  I continue to work on the farm but have dialed my hours back a bit so that I could stay actively involved in organic agriculture while pursuing other interests. I volunteer as a NOFA mentor and work part-time at Cornell AgriTech helping them with their hop yard management. 

I support organic because it is best for the land, best for the environment, and best for the people.  I encourage everyone to consume as much organic food as they can afford, as good food is medicine. 

Policy Resolutions

Policy resolutions serve as the foundational guide to NOFA-NY’s advocacy and policy efforts. Resolutions are drafted each year by the Policy Committee and are voted on by the Board of Directors to move forward for a vote by the full membership at the annual membership meeting. All members are called upon each year to submit suggested policy resolutions. Each policy resolution is voted on individually. Download a PDF of all resolutions here.

The following are the resolutions being brought to a member vote at the 2024 Annual Membership Meeting:

Note: this is an update to the 2023 resolution by the same name.

Whereas, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a class of carbon–fluorine bonded man made substances that have been used for decades in a wide range of products, including fire extinguishing foam, water-resistant clothing, grease-resistant food packaging, nonstick cookware, pesticides, and personal care products. Nicknamed “forever chemicals” because of their persistence in the environment, they have also been found in drinking water, dairy products, at industrial sites and military bases, and in soil due to land application of biosolids (the solid material left after municipal wastewater treatment, also known as sewage sludge).  A 2015 NY Department of Environmental Conservation survey of publicly owned plants in NY found that the total biosolids generation rate in NY is approximately 375,000 dry tons (dt) annually the majority of which are disposed of in landfills with about 61,000 dts reclaimed for other uses including land application, particularly on farmland as a soil amendment. 

And whereas, the municipal waste treatment process concentrates PFAS but there is no statewide requirement for wastewater treatment plants to test for or remove PFAS from effluent prior to discharge into a public waterway or on land. An analysis of 716 tap-water samples revealed that 45% of drinking water samples in the United States contained at least one tested PFAS. Municipalities are disincentivized to reveal the presence of PFAS in the sewage they are treating and therefore could be releasing contaminated water into rivers or surface waters ultimately exposing aquifers and wells used by residents and farmers to contamination. 

And whereas, research is ongoing, the Environmental Protection Agency has acknowledged that PFAS exposure (possibly at low levels), including from eating and drinking contaminated materials, is linked to reproductive effects, developmental effects in children, increased risk of some cancers, and immune system impacts. 

And whereas, over the past few years, PFAS have emerged as a growing contaminant of concern not only for drinking water nationwide (including in several communities in New York), but also in agriculture. Both milk from cows grazing on contaminated land or consuming contaminated water and farmland have tested positive for PFAS at high levels. Some organic farms in the state of Maine have discovered PFAS-contaminated soils, most likely due to the application of biosolids decades ago, before the farms were organic.  

And whereas biosolids application is not allowed in organic production, legacy pollution from practices used before a farm became organic can still harm organic producers and consumers.  

Therefore, the members of NOFA NY resolve to urge federal and state leaders and agencies to take immediate actions to address the issue of PFAS contamination including: 

  • Prohibiting the spreading of biosolids on any agricultural land. 
  • Prohibiting the addition of PFAS ingredients in pesticides.  
  • Limiting the sale of PFAS-containing products and holding manufacturers accountable for resulting contamination. 
  • Facilitating and funding state-wide testing of soil and groundwater where biosolids have been applied. 
  • Funding research into how PFAS contamination impacts farmland and potential methods for remediation of contaminated farmland. 
  • Establishing a threshold for PFAS contamination in food crops. 
  • Supporting farms impacted by contamination with expenses related to testing, compensating losses in revenue due to contamination, and assisting in navigating future business plans.  
  • Establishing a new disaster assistance program to support farms impacted by contamination.

Whereas, the frequency of exposure to wildfire smoke which is made up of harmful particles and gasses has been increasing each year, and the smoke can not only affect workers in the field but penetrate barns and other farm buildings;

And whereas, certain conditions—youth, age over 65, pregnancy, pre-existing heart and lung conditions, and weakened immune systems—may make workers more sensitive to smoke;

And whereas, employers can reduce exposure to smoke by having a careful plan of action, paying close attention to the air quality index, and providing high-quality masks at AQI of 50 or higher, an indoor space with filtered air if AQI over 200, and cancel work if AQI over 300, with no retaliation against workers who act to protect themselves by taking time off;

Therefore, the members of NOFA-NY resolve that we urge New York State and the federal government to adopt rules and regulations that protect farm employees from poor air quality impacted by smoke and particulate matter and commit resources to enforce those rules and regulations.

Note: this is an update of 2018 resolution: “No Organic Certification for Hydroponic Crop Production (pg 44)” to incorporate language of the 2023 position statement drafted and adopted by MOFGA Certification Services; NOFA-NY Certified Organic, LLC; OEFFA Certification; OneCert, Inc.; OneCert International Pvt. Ltd.; Real Organic Project; Vermont Organic Farmers LLC in April 2023.

Whereas, the USDA organic regulations define organic production as, “A production system that is managed in accordance with the Act and regulations in this part to respond to site-specific conditions by integrating cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.” 7 CFR 205.2 “Organic production” 

And whereas, organic production requires a plan of management that has been agreed to by the producer and the certifying agent and that includes written plans concerning all aspects of agricultural production described in the Act and the regulations.

And whereas, according to the Organic Food Production Act (OFPA) 6513(b)(1), “An organic plan shall contain provisions designed to foster soil fertility, primarily through the management of the organic content of the soil through proper tillage, crop rotation, and manuring” (emphasis added).

And whereas, support for the idea that organic production is soil-based is found in the USDA’s preamble to the regulations published in 2000 which states, “The soil fertility and crop nutrient management practice standard in section 205.203 [of the National Organic Program Final Rule] establishes the universe of allowed materials and practices” (emphasis added). Hydroponic production was not included in that universe because hydroponic production does not manage soil fertility.

And whereas, § 205.203 Soil fertility and crop nutrient management practice standard. (a) The producer must select and implement tillage and cultivation practices that maintain or improve the physical, chemical, and biological condition of soil and minimize soil erosion. (b) The producer must manage crop nutrients and soil fertility through rotations, cover crops, and the application of plant and animal materials. (c) The producer must manage plant and animal materials to maintain or improve soil organic matter content in a manner that does not contribute to contamination of crops, soil, or water by plant nutrients, pathogenic organisms, heavy metals, or residues of prohibited substances. (emphasis added) 7 CFR 205.203(a-c)

And whereas, the general requirements in the USDA organic regulations also include a requirement that presumes soil as a part of an organic production operation.

And whereas,  § 205.200 General. Production practices implemented in accordance with this subpart must maintain or improve the natural resources of the operation, including soil and water quality. 

And whereas, § 205.2 Natural resources of the operation. The physical, hydrological, and biological features of a production operation, including soil, water, wetlands, woodlands, and wildlife. 

And whereas the National Organic Standards Board reiterated support of organic production as soil-based production in 2010 when it wrote, “Although the regulations do not specifically state ‘soil only production’, the exclusion of soil from organic production of normally terrestrial, vascular plants violates the intent of the regulations. This intent can be seen in these sections of the rule that require proper stewardship toward improving and maintaining the soil ecology within an organic farming system.” The 2010 NOSB recommendation titled, “Production Standards for Terrestrial Plants in Containers and Enclosures,” further confirmed that organic production was designed to be a soil-based system when it said, “Based on its foundation of sound management of soil biology and ecology, it becomes clear that systems of crop production that eliminate soil from the system, such as hydroponics or aeroponics, can not be considered as examples of acceptable organic farming practices. Hydroponics, the production of plants in nutrient-rich solutions or moist inert material, or aeroponics, a variation in which plant roots are suspended in air and continually misted with nutrient solution, have their place in production agriculture, but certainly cannot be classified as certified organic growing methods due to their exclusion of the soil-plant ecology intrinsic to organic farming systems and USDA/NOP regulations governing them” (emphasis added). Soil is important to organic systems because the nutrients come from the breakdown of organic matter by organisms in living soil. This is in contrast to nutrients being fed directly to the plant via the continuous introduction of soluble fertilizers that occurs with hydroponic growing methods.

And whereas,  it is clear that the organic regulations and OFPA were designed around the principle that crops would be grown in soil, certain exceptions for the production of planting stock, sprouts, and annual seedlings are specifically mentioned in 7 CFR 205.204 of the regulations in order to allow the production of crops which either a.) receive most of their nutrition from the seed, or b.) will eventually be planted in the soil and grown to maturity. The NOP clearly meant to allow these types of production but without standards specific to these types of production, certifiers are unable to consistently implement the rule. 

And whereas, the National Organic Program Final Rule states that production practices must maintain or improve natural resources, including soil and water quality (7 CFR 205.200). Furthermore, the Rule makes it clear that a producer must select and implement tillage and cultivation practices that maintain or improve the physical, chemical, and biological condition of soil and minimize soil erosion (7 CFR 205.203). Crop rotation is cited several times in the regulation as a primary method of managing crop nutrients and soil fertility, improving soil organic matter content, managing deficient or excess nutrients, managing crop pests, weeds, and diseases, and introducing biological diversity. Crop rotation cannot fulfill these functions if crops are not grown in soil. The regulations use the word “must” for each of these requirements, indicating that these practices are mandatory. Therefore, if an organic production plan is to comply with the full intent of OFPA and the National Organic Program Final Rule, crops must be grown in soil except with regard to those exceptions mentioned in 7 CFR 205.204.

And whereas soil is defined by the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) as “(i) The unconsolidated mineral or organic material on the immediate surface of the Earth that serves as a natural medium for the growth of land plants. (ii) The unconsolidated mineral or organic matter on the surface of the Earth that has been subjected to and shows effects of genetic and environmental factors of climate (including water and temperature effects), and macro- and microorganisms, conditioned by relief, acting on parent material over a period of time. A product soil differs from the material from which it is derived in many physical, chemical, biological, and morphological properties and characteristics.” 

And whereas, the proposed organic poultry and livestock standards would define “soil” as “the outermost layer of the earth composed of minerals, water, air, organic matter, fungi, and bacteria in which plants may grow roots.” 

And whereas, if we view ‘soil’ in light of these important definitions, and apply these definitions when we review usages of the term ‘soil’ throughout OFPA and The National Organic Program Final Rule, it becomes clear that a compliant organic production plan must root itself in the outermost layer of Earth where plants are to be grown to maturity in that substance. 

And whereas, the Organic Food Production Act (OFPA) begins by stating its purposes: 

§6501. Purposes. It is the purpose of this chapter —(1) to establish national standards governing the marketing of certain agricultural products as organically produced products; (2) to assure consumers that organically produced products meet a consistent standard; and (3) to facilitate interstate commerce in fresh and processed food that is organically produced. 

And whereas, achieving OFPA’s second purpose builds on the first purpose in the list. We can only “assure consumers that organically produced products meet a consistent standard” after such standards are established. Until the USDA publishes the standards it promised in the Preamble to the final rule in 2002, certifiers do not have consistent standards for the certification of beekeeping, fish, mushrooms, or greenhouses. It is clear that such operations were intended to be certified, but certifiers have had to develop their own policies in the absence of clear national standards, which is contrary to achieving the first and second purposes of OFPA despite the best intentions of the individual certification agencies. In the meantime, certifiers must enforce the regulations that exist bearing in mind the intent of organic movements worldwide.

Therefore, the members of NOFA-NY resolve that based on organic agriculture’s foundation of sound management of soil biology and ecology, systems of crop production (for crops that naturally grow in soil) that eliminate soil from the system, such as hydroponics or aeroponics, are not acceptable organic farming practices and cannot be classified as certified organic growing methods due to their exclusion of the soil-plant ecology intrinsic to organic farming systems and USDA/NOP regulations governing them.

Whereas NOFA-NY  defines organic according to international principles of Health, Ecology, Fairness and Care, and the definition of agriculture outlined by IFOAM:  “Organic Agriculture is a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems, and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity, and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic Agriculture combines tradition, innovation, and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and good quality of life for all involved.” and

And whereas, NOFA-NY has been certifying organic producers since 1984 – well before the USDA got involved– and since 2002 has been a USDA-accredited organic certifier, and is the largest organic certifier in NYS, certifying about 1000 entities; and

And whereas USDA “certified” organic standards,  are designed to provide a baseline even playing field for all producers, and consistent regulations for marketing the organic label; and 

And whereas, the organic standards are established and updated with significant input from the organic community including through the National Organic Standards Board which carefully and thoroughly considers and makes recommendations on a wide range of issues involving the production, handling, and processing of organic products; and

And whereas, since the USDA National Organic Program’s inception, NOFA-NY has engaged in public commenting and advocacy to ensure fairness, consistency and continuous improvement of the organic standards; and

And whereas, third party certification, by USDA-accredited organic certifiers, ensures that organic farmers are using systems that promote soil, animal, worker and ecosystem health and that consumers can have confidence in the integrity of the organic label; and

And whereas ‘regenerative’, ‘sustainable’ product claims are not consistently defined or enforced and can create inequity among producers and confusion among consumers; and 

And hereas NOFA-NY’s  vision outlines our dedication to a just and resilient food and farming system, as well as our goal to achieve that through our mission of demonstration and education; and

Therefore, the members of NOFA-NY affirm the organization’s dedication to organic certification, organic education and organic advocacy and ongoing commitment to grow a strong, healthy, just, and environmentally and socially resilient food and agriculture system.

Whereas the majority of the United States has been in a housing crisis for over two decades, made worse by the financial crash of 2008; and

And whereas the housing crisis in upstate New York has been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic-related exodus of wealthy urbanites to rural and suburban areas, concentrated especially in the Hudson Valley, which has exerted massive upward pressure on rents; and

And whereas low-wage workers across the land- and service-based economies throughout rural regions of New York State are struggling to find affordable housing; and

And whereas the Hudson Valley Farmer Housing Working Group—a cohort of farm owners, managers, workers, and service providers who’ve convened to take the next steps toward farmer housing solutions—has done research that reveals the detrimental effects the housing crisis is having on the agricultural economy in the region and across New York State, including an exodus of domestic farmworkers from the field and downsizing of farms; and 

And whereas the long-standing research of scholars and policymakers with immigrant farm workers (cf. the work of Margaret Gray, Emily Hamilton, et al.) points to ongoing challenges building and maintaining dignified farmworker housing in New York State; and 

And whereas these research streams all indicate a strong need for additional farmer/farmworker housing and the technical assistance and funding to support its construction and maintenance; and 

And whereas the housing insecurity and unaffordability facing low-wage land-based workers, including farm workers, threatens their ability to continue the important ecological stewardship they perform that has important implications for climate change mitigation, food security, and local and regional economic development, which NOFA-NY has prioritized in other resolutions; now therefore

Therefore, the members of NOFA-NY resolve that we support:

  •  The development of pilot projects for centralized and on-farm farmworker housing in the Hudson Valley and beyond that can serve as proofs-of-concept for similar developments statewide
  • The members of NOFA-NY support policies that include farm workers as a special needs category in federal funding streams, allowing the state to prioritize projects addressing these workforce housing needs in requests for proposals and expressions of interest (RFPs and RFEIs)
  • A dedicated funding stream for construction and maintenance of farmer and farmworker housing to be included in the state budget that is maintained or increased in future years.

Whereas, with the increasing frequency of weather disruptions as well as climate-related supply-chain disruptions, it is urgent to build everyone’s capacity to grow their own food, including skills and knowledge, and especially access to land and resources (water, seed);

And whereas, although in most cities available lots are not adequate to supply all the food needs of city dwellers, community and individual urban gardens and city farms can make important contributions to the food supply, especially of specialty crops including vegetables, herbs, flowers, mushrooms and fruit. During World War II, fruit and vegetables harvested in the home and community Victory Gardens were estimated to be 9,000,000–10,000,000 short tons (8,200,000–9,100,000 t) in 1944, an amount equal to all commercial production of fresh vegetables;

And whereas, gardens provide educational and aesthetic oases in the urban landscape, places where people can gather, engage in healthy activities, transfer useful skills from generation to generation, relax, socialize and build community;

And whereas, by focusing on building healthy soils and perennial plantings of fruit and nut trees and berry shrubs, city farms, and gardens can contribute to mitigating climate change.

And whereas, in cities scarred by racial injustice, full government support for urban agriculture can provide training and jobs while beautifying city neighborhoods.

And whereas, although NYS has a recent policy that supports urban farms and gardens and an excellent 2023 Community Gardens Task Force Report with practical recommendations, too many NY cities, and townships have policies and regulations in place that create barriers to gardening, and, instead of protecting gardens, cities consider gardens as holding space for future development;

Therefore, the members of NOFA-NY resolve that we support:

  • The recommendations of the NYS 2023 Community Gardens Task Force Report that calls on the state and local governments to protect community gardens
  • Establishing a Right to Farm law in urban areas
  • Providing financial support for staffing and the resources needed to sustain a garden in a way that is accessible to the least resourced gardeners and grassroots groups
  • Legislation that would broaden the purview of the Community Gardens Office to an Office of Urban Agriculture, including, but not limited to urban farms, community gardens, farmers markets, and Community Supported Agriculture.

Whereas kelp and seaweed products are an important organic soil amendment (fertilizer and biostimulant) due to their superior capacity for carbon sequestration, proven ability to support soil health, unique qualities that drive robust crop production, and their potential to reverse the ecosystem damaging effects of synthetic chemical fertilizers; 

And whereas the use of macroalgae such as kelp for fertilizing and bio-stimulating purposes in crop production is an ancient practice, originating with Indigenous cultures in North American coastal communities dating back thousands of years.  By reviving ancient indigenous farming techniques and implementing them in modern-day crop production practices, these methods are honored and preserved for future generations while homage and gratitude are directed towards indigenous peoples worldwide

And whereas 100% of all kelp and seaweed products currently used for organic farming purposes in New York State are imported from outside of the state, the majority of these imports originate from outside of the country.  Imported wild seaweed products are often available at very low cost due to an absence of harvesting regulations and suppressed labor rates for harvesters overseas; 

And whereas rapid adoption of U.S. farmed kelp fertilizers throughout the NYS and Northeast bioregion will serve as a means to capture carbon, mitigate the effects of climate change, restore soil health, increase organic crop production, protect clean water sources, prevent ecological disruption, and create new jobs locally;

And whereas the USDA’s recently announced Fertilizer Production and Expansion Program has recognized the national importance of building a domestic supply chain in fertilizer production in order to combat the effects of inflation and foreign supply chain disruption which negatively affect both the farmer and end consumer; 

Therefore, the members of NOFA-NY resolve that we support the development of a farmed seaweed industry that: 

  • ensures that farms are in appropriate locations, of an appropriate size, and protect biodiversity
  • prioritizes local, source-verified, organic kelp farmed from U.S. waters, including kelp produced by indigenous farmers themselves working in this industry today and carrying on their ancestral techniques from which we all benefit
  • encourages organic certification through the development of strong standards that protect health and the environment.

Whereas sustainable, local, organic food and farming contributes to an ecologically sound and economically viable food system that promotes organic food production, local businesses, and land stewardship in New York;

And whereas, NOFA subscribes to the Principles of Organic Agriculture from IFOAM Organics International which states that Organic Agriculture is based on:

The Principle of Health, where Organic Agriculture should sustain and enhance the health of soil, plant, animal, human and planet as one indivisible;

The Principle of Ecology, where Organic Agriculture should be based on living ecological systems and cycles, work with them and emulate them and help sustain them;

The Principle of Fairness, where Organic Agriculture should build on relationships that ensure fairness with regard to the common environment and life opportunities; and

The Principle of Care, where Organic Agriculture should be managed in a precautionary and responsible manner to protect the health and wellbeing of current and future generations and the environment;

And whereas, the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, the principles which guide wildlife management in the United States,  states that:

The reason for killing wildlife must be valid. Wildlife shall be taken by legal and ethical means, in the spirit of “fair chase’, and with good cause. Animals can be killed only for legitimate purposes – for food and fur, in self-defense, and for the protection of property.

Science plays a key role in managing wildlife. Wildlife populations are sustained and scientifically managed by professionals in government agencies.

And whereas, killing large numbers of wild animals like bobcats, foxes, and coyotes in wildlife killing contests solely for cash and prizes is counter to the North American Model of Wildlife conservation, and disrupts natural ecosystem regulation, which can create problems on farms and impact the farming industry;

And whereas, scientists have recently published a study documenting  that protecting and enhancing wildlife around the world could significantly enhance natural carbon capture by supercharging ecosystem carbon sinks, as wild animals play a critical role in controlling the carbon cycle in terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems through a wide range of processes including foraging, nutrient deposition, disturbance, organic carbon deposition, and seed dispersal. It has been shown that the dynamics of carbon uptake and storage fundamentally change with the presence or absence of animals. “Wildlife species, throughout their interaction with the environment, are the missing link between biodiversity and climate,” says Yale School of the Environment Oastler Professor of Population and Community Ecology Oswald Schmitz who led the study.  

And whereas, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), along with top carnivore scientists and wildlife agencies across the country, have found that indiscriminate killing of coyotes, the most common target of killing contests, can cause coyote numbers to grow and increase conflicts with livestock;

And whereas, the best available science overwhelmingly shows that random killing of native coyotes is counterproductive because it disrupts the sensitive coyote pack structure that allows coyotes to self-regulate their populations and teach pups appropriate hunting behaviors; 

And whereas, science demonstrates that this disruption of the coyote pack structure causes coyote populations to expand  with increasing immigration of new coyotes, reproduction and pup survival rates which in turn causes coyotes to find bigger and easier prey like sheep to feed larger litters of pups; 

And whereas, USDA data shows that most carnivores do not prey on livestock and that all carnivores combined are responsible for less than 0.5% of sheep and cattle losses;  

And whereas, carnivores are beneficial to farmers because they contribute to ecosystem health through trophic cascades, scavenge animal carcasses, eat rodents and other animals that damage crops, and serve as guardian animals that keep other carnivores away;  

And whereas, the scientific literature clearly documents that non-lethal measures are the most effective means of preventing and reducing livestock conflict (for citations see Non Lethal References by Renee Seacor of Project Coyote);.

And whereas, the DEC states, “Most problems can be avoided with proper husbandry techniques” and further highlights that  proactive prevention is the most effective at minimizing conflicts with wildlife stating,  “it is much easier to prevent depredation from occurring than it is to stop it once it starts;”  

And whereas, the DEC finds that lethal control of specific, problem-causing carnivores may be necessary at times, nonlethal deterrents and traditional animal husbandry should be the dominant method for avoiding conflict.

And whereas, farmers respect wild animals and their habitats and do not support the mass killing of them for cash and prizes; therefore

The members of NOFA-NY resolve that we oppose wildlife killing contests conducted in New York State.  

Whereas, due to social and economic changes over the past few decades, in many rural areas of NY, there is a shortage of local residents available for farm jobs;

And whereas, as a result of willing departures, deportations, and the increased danger of crossing the border with Mexico, the supply of prime-age immigrant workers available for farm work has been shrinking;

And whereas, Congress has not been able to agree on immigration reform policies that would resolve the farm labor dilemma, and all recent legislative proposals include mandatory E-verify, a requirement that would entail legal hardships for mid-sized and smaller farms as well as threaten existing farm workers lacking legal status with deportation;

And whereas, when NOFA-NY polls farmer members on labor issues, there is no consensus on how to respond to current policy proposals at either the state or federal levels;

And whereas, to create a domestic farm workforce will require changes in both policy and practices, and a long-term vision to guide that change;

Therefore the members of NOFA-NY resolve to establish a working group of members which will invite contributions from other stakeholders and scientists to develop a process to study organic and small farm labor needs, seek consensus on labor issues and create a long-term vision for the establishment of a domestic farm labor force.

Furthermore, the members of NOFA-NY will call on local, state, and federal governments to use this vision as a guide toward creating policies to resolve the farm labor dilemma in a humanitarian and practical manner.