At the core of the Watershed Agricultural Council’s (WAC) mission is the balance of water quality with economic viability. True to this, the WAC’s Economic Viability (EV) Program works to enhance the profitability and sustainability of all agricultural and forestry enterprises in the NYC Watershed and Greater Catskill Region through initiatives including our Pure Catskills buy local campaign, our Micro Grants Reimbursement Program, and the newly launched in 2019 Business Planning Reimbursement Program.
This year, we want to take the opportunity to highlight the success of the first year of offering our Micro Grants Reimbursement Program. The purpose of these grants are simple: to encourage the implementation of activities that can enhance the economic viability of farm and forest businesses. Any farmer, logger, forester, forest landowner or Pure Catskills member with business property inside the West of Hudson NYC Watershed are eligible. We had four grant rounds in January, April, July and October. Over 25 applications were submitted, 22 were approved, and the total funds awarded were $81,917 (as of September 30, 2019), to date $41,357 has been reimbursed. 2019 Grant categories include:
Training: to encourage continuing education intended to enhance the economic viability profitability and sustainability of eligible applicant’s businesses by providing grant funding to help applicants offset the cost of online courses, workshops, seminars, conferences and college courses.
Marketing: to encourage branding, advertising and communications related to the marketing of products and services provided by eligible applicants.
Event/Mileage: to enhance the economic viability of farm and forest businesses by off-setting the cost of attending new events, fairs, farmers’ markets and/or transporting products to new markets or venues through mileage reimbursement and/or vendor fees reimbursement.
Staffing: to enhance profitability, productivity and/or assist with business expansion.
Loggers Workers Compensation: to enhance the economic viability of New York City Watershed Logging businesses by off-setting the cost of Workers Compensation Insurance by encouraging the use of the Planning Analysis in Timber Harvesting (PATH) software to assess logging costs and revenue.
The EV Program continues to play a unique role not only within the WAC organization, but the region. We have the ability to adapt with changing farm and forest trends and needs. The WAC is not only a resource for water quality protection, but we are now a resource for increased education, marketing, new markets, business expansion and more. These efforts will remain the focus of the EV Program as we look to evolve with future needs, and work to strengthen and foster economic growth for years to come!
Read the 2019 Annual Report here.