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Grape growers get business plan help

February 25, 2016
Westfield Republican

PORTLAND - On Feb. 10, The Lake Erie Regional Grape Program held an informational session to assist established growers in writing business plans. Growers are required to submit a written business plan as part of the On-Farm Enhancement Grant Program. The program is one of a number of attempts to assist the rural economy in the southern tier. It encourages growers to expand their business and/or lower their environmental impact.

Attendees were excited about the opportunity to leverage their own savings through this unusual grant opportunity, to grow their businesses, and create additional economic opportunity in the area.

Business and economic Extension Educator, Kevin Martin, is taking the lead role of reviewing grower business plans. He states, "Commodities are slumping and cash flow for growers is becoming tight. The business plan requirement is an opportunity for Extension to review the plan and help maximize the economic impact at a low risk for growers already in a precarious situation."

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Growers attending an informational seminar engage in conversation and share information about the On-Farm Enhancement Grant Program.

The funding process requires growers to assess their current environmental impact by completing programs designed by Cornell University and others to comply with NYS Agricultural Environmental Management programs. These programs require farmers to develop conservation plans that address concerns and opportunities individually tailored to the farm goals.

The grant also encourages existing growers to consider their environmental impact. Enrolling in certain conservation programs and making efforts to reduce impact can provide some additional funding to growers.

Deadlines for funding are quickly approaching. Farmers will need to be diligent and imaginative to obtain and use this funding. With the help of local resources, farmers will improve their competitiveness and profitability, leading to long term economic growth.

The Lake Erie Regional Grape Program is a cooperative effort between Cornell and Penn State Universities; the participating Cornell Cooperative Extension Associations of Chautauqua, Erie, Niagara and Cattaraugus Counties in New York and Erie County in Pennsylvania; and participating industry partners National Grape Cooperative (Welch's), Constellation Brands and Walkers Fruit Basket. The LERGP extension team provides research-based educational programming for commercial grape growers throughout the year at venues across the Lake Erie grape belt. For more information on LERGP, call 716-792-2800 or visit our website at



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