Amagansett Farm Reaps ‘Early-Stage’ Award

Rookie farmers across New York State have received an economic boost from Albany through the New Farmers Grant Fund.

A total of 25 “early-stage farmers” will share $743,000 in grants, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office announced Wednesday, carrying the new-farmer program’s three-year grant total past $1.4 million.

The funds are meant to improve each startup farm’s profitability and promote diversification and growth across New York’s agricultural sector, according to the governor’s office.

Included in this third round of New Farmers Grant Fund awards is $22,943 for Bhumi Farms Inc., a certified-organic Amagansett enterprise launched in 2012 by ex-hedge fund manager Frank Trentacoste.

Reached by phone Thursday, Trentacoste deferred comments – including details on how he’ll use the grant money – until after he’s had a chance to discuss the award with Empire State Development. Albany’s main economic-development engine administers the New Farmers Grant Fund with the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets.

Trentacoste, a former New York City-based buy-side analyst for San Francisco-based Javelin Venture Partners, was one of 55 applicants for this year’s awards, according to ESD. Early-stage farmers were encouraged to apply for grants to cover specific business-development projects, and applications were scored based on criteria including project readiness.

Applications included projects designed to expand production, construct or renovate farm buildings, purchase equipment and seed and increase efficiency, according to ESD.

In announcing the awards, Cuomo called agriculture “a critical component of New York’s economy.”

“This funding will support new and emerging agribusinesses as they expand their operations, develop and market high-quality products and generate new growth in their communities,” the governor said.

The 2016 grants ranged from the $50,000 awarded to Mace Chasm Farm, a meat-and-egg enterprise in Essex County, to the $15,728 awarded to Alewife Farm, a Dutchess County vegetable farm.

The largest total of combined funds ($205,382) and the most individual awards (six) went to farm projects in the state’s North Country region. Bhumi Farms was the only Long Island farm on the 2016 list.

Two Long Island-based agricultural enterprises – Condzella Farms, a Wading River vegetable farm with a thriving hops business, and Mattituck poultry farm Browder’s Birds – were included in the New Farmers Grant Fund’s 2015 round.

New York Commissioner of Agriculture Richard Ball said the grant fund awards would help startup farmers “take their operations to the next level and ensure the success of the state’s agriculture economy.”

“The New Farmer Grant Fund program not only supports our new farmers who are starting out and expanding, but also encourages those looking for a new career path to explore a future in agriculture,” Ball said in a statement. “There is a great pride in being a part of the 1 percent of the population that feeds the other 99 percent.”