Food Systems Network signs-on to NRDC letter calling for wholesale farmers market at Hunt's Point
August 14, 2012
Commissioner Darrel J. Aubertine
NYS Department of Agriculture & Markets
10B Airline Drive
Albany, NY 12235
President Kenneth Adams
NYS Empire State Development
95 Perry Street, Suite 500 Buffalo, NY 14203
President Seth W. Pinsky
NYC Economic Development Corporation
110 William Street
New York, NY 10038
Dear Commissioner Aubertine, President Pinsky and President Adams:
We are writing to offer our strong support for the creation of a wholesale farmers’ market in the Hunts Point area of the South Bronx and to offer our assistance to make this project a reality.
As you know, your agencies are currently involved in negotiations to finalize a $350 million modernization plan for Hunts Point Produce Market. This 45-year-old food hub, the largest in the nation, supplies an estimated 22 million people in the region with fruit and vegetables – including 60% of New York City’s produce supply. At the same time, however, only about 4 percent of the $2.3 billion in annual sales at the Produce Market comes from food grown on New York State farms.
Recognizing the need to create better markets for locally grown food, Governor Cuomo stated in his 2011 State of the State address that the Hunts Point revitalization should follow a “two-pronged approach.” In addition to renovating the Market’s existing infrastructure, he called for the creation of a “major wholesale ‘farmers' market’” in Hunts Point that would “provide an avenue for local farmers to market their produce directly to the New York City metropolitan area.” The Governor added: “This project will further enhance the Upstate economy by completing the cycle of production to consumption all within a few hundred miles.”
It is estimated that such a wholesale farmers’ market in Hunts Point could draw almost $900 million in sales for locally grown food, thus providing an immediate economic boost to both upstate growers and downstate suppliers. Supporting regional farming can also have a significant economic multiplier effect in rural communities, supporting farm-dependent services such as feed and seed stores, veterinarians, and equipment dealers.
Building a new wholesale farmers’ market in Hunts Point can also be a national model that helps to protect valuable state agricultural lands. Indeed, over the last 25 years, New York has lost almost 70 acres of farmland per day. Thus, supporting local farms through a new Hunts Point outlet would also prove environmentally beneficial by preserving farmland and aiding small and medium-sized regional growers.
Additionally, a wholesale farmers’ market – with critical input from the community – could also directly benefit the surrounding Hunts Point neighborhood by providing a new outlet for fresh fruit and vegetables from local growers. Ironically, the Hunts Point community, which sits adjacent to a vast supply of food, is one of the hungriest in the United States. And given that this neighborhood has some of the city’s highest per capita rates of diabetes and obesity, gaining access to fresher and more nutritious produce is an urgent public health need. Additionally, it is important that the overall Produce Market’s renovation meets the highest green standards, which would yield additional environmental and public health gains for the community and the city at large.
In sum, we respectfully request that any final agreement to modernize the Produce Market include the creation of a wholesale farmers’ market in Hunts Point where regional growers can sell their produce to schools, supermarkets, restaurants and other large buyers. As the New York Times recently editorialized, the Governor and the Mayor should make sure this final deal incorporates “a central place for local farmers.” We stand ready to assist your offices in advancing this crucial project for the health of the state’s economy, environment and people.
To view the letter with a list of signatories as of August 14, 2012, click here.