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Agriculture and Fishing

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Let us link you up with the programs you need to grow!

The Long Island Regional Economic Development Council and its Natural Assets Working Group have identified agriculture and fishing as critical industries that contribute to a high quality of life in Suffolk County. If you own a farm or farm-related business, or you are in the fishing industry in Suffolk County, you've come to the right place. Consider the Suffolk County Department of Economic Development & Planning as your one-stop shop for links to programs that can help your business succeed. If you are an aspiring farmer or fishing industry business person and are new to Suffolk, there are many government programs and non-profit organizations dedicated to preserving agriculture and fishing on Long Island. 

The Department of Economic Development & Planning produces an Agriculture & Fishing E-Newsletter which provides updates on important meetings, deadlines, and economic opportunities for farmers and fishermen. You can subscribe to this valuable e-newsletter here. If you have specific questions about farming and fishing opportunities in Suffolk County, or if you have any specific feedback about this website, please contact Matthew Kapell at (631) 853-6330.

In December 2013, the Department released a new report entitled “The State of the Suffolk County Agriculture Industry”. This report summarizes the challenges identified by 143 agricultural producers who completed an agriculture survey in 2013 as part of the County’s efforts to develop an Agriculture & Farmland Protection Plan. You can read a copy of the report here.

In December 2015, Suffolk County finalized and adopted a new 2015 Suffolk County Agriculture & Farmland Protection Plan. This is the first update of the plan since the April 1996 plan, which was entitled the Agricultural & Farmland Protection Plan: The Economy of Agriculture

The recently completed “Suffolk County Agricultural Stewardship Plan” complemented the "Reclaim Our Water" initiative and ensures that local agricultural interests are doing their part to protect our vital Suffolk County ground and surface waters. The Plan was unanimously passed by the Legislature and signed by the County Executive in April 2016. You can read an Executive Summary here.


Suffolk County enjoys a wealth of natural assets that fuel the county’s exceptional quality of life and sustain economic growth. Suffolk County has a rich agricultural and maritime heritage. These industries are the backbone of the Long Island way-of-life. Not only do our farms, farmstands, vineyards, marinas, and fisheries generate the tourism dollars that support our local restaurants and service industries, but they also provide the fresh produce that feeds people locally and across the globe.

To support these essential industries, Suffolk County, New York State, and the Federal government offer a variety of programs and funding opportunities. These programs help sustain agricultural and fishing activities in an environmentally-friendly way that will help maintain Long Island’s rich history and magnificent natural assets.

Farmland Development Rights Program

Suffolk County’s Farmland Development Rights program began in 1974 and is the oldest purchase of development rights (PDR) program in the nation. The Suffolk County PDR program continues to be a model for PDR programs across the nation. The farmland PDR program serves many vital functions but most importantly, it ensures that rich, viable agricultural soils and farmland properties within Suffolk County will be preserved permanently for farming use. Suffolk County has successfully protected approximately 11,000 acres of farmland since the program’s inception and over 20,000 acres have been preserved County-wide through a variety of County, Town, and Non-Profit farmland preservation efforts. A map of all Suffolk County preserved land can be found here.

The statute that governs this program is known as Chapter 8, in Part III of the Administrative Local Laws of the Laws of Suffolk County. When a farmer agrees to sell the development rights to his/her land to Suffolk County, the farmer retains ownership of the land, but the use of that land is restricted to agricultural uses only. A Suffolk County Farmland Committee was created under Chapter 8, and its most important role is to determine which Suffolk PDR program applications should be recommended to the Suffolk County Legislature for purchase. This evaluation is based on several criteria, including the parcel’s soil quality, farmland contiguity, potential to preserve scenic vistas, the value of the property, and development pressures within the community-at-large. 

The Suffolk County PDR program is successful because it enhances the economic opportunities of both new and longtime Suffolk County farmers. Here are some of the benefits:

Investment Capital – PDR funds help farmer’s meet financial needs, buy additional land, invest in new crops, expand retail operations, and purchase new equipment.

Estate Planning – once the development rights have been separated from the land, the value of the land declines to its agricultural value. This reduces the inheritance tax liability and can increase the likelihood that heirs retain the family farm. PDR funds also help fund farmer retirement while ensuring that traditional Suffolk County farms remain in agricultural use for future generations of farmers.

If you own agricultural property in Suffolk and are interested in selling development rights to the County, you can download a program application here. Please be assured that by submitting this application, you are only expressing an interest in participating in the Suffolk County Farmland Development Rights Program. You are not committing yourself to a sale, nor is the County committing itself to a purchase. The information obtained from this form will only be used by the Suffolk County Farmland Committee to evaluate your application. To learn more about Suffolk County’s farmland preservation policies and programs, please click here.

If you are a participant in Suffolk County’s PDR program and you would like the Farmland Committee to Review a Proposed Agricultural Improvement, you can find a link to the application form here

Please contact the Suffolk County Division of Planning & Environment at (631) 853-4863 if you have any questions.

Additional Purchase Development Rights (PDR) Programs

If you are interested in selling the agricultural development rights on your property, please keep in mind that Suffolk County government is not your only option. Development Rights can also be purchased by a Town or a private conservation group, such as a land trust. For example, the Community Preservation Fund established in 1999, provides a pool of funds from a 2% real estate transfer tax for the five Eastern Long Island towns to purchase open-space and PDR lands. Each town administers its own funds separately and they should be contacted individually. The five eastern towns are Riverhead, Southampton, East HamptonSouthold and Shelter IslandPeconic Land Trust also has a successful track record as a non-profit organization structuring and facilitating various types of PDR agreements. 


Suffolk County Agricultural Districts Program

Enacted in 1971, New York’s Agricultural Districts Law (ADL) creates economic and regulatory incentives to aid new and existing farmers. The Program is based on a combination of landowner incentives and protections, all of which are designed to forestall the conversion of farmland to non-agricultural uses. Included in these benefits are protections against overly restrictive local laws, government funded acquisition or construction projects, and private nuisance suits involving agricultural practices. You can click on an explanation of ADL benefits here

Enrollment in the Agricultural Districts Program can help the farm owner receive property tax assessments based on the value of the land for agricultural production, rather than its development value. These assessments can save Suffolk County farmers a substantial amount of money. Furthermore, it helps ensure that farming in Suffolk County will remain a viable and economically sustainable occupation despite developmental pressures and rising property values.

Owners of farms both within and outside agricultural districts in Suffolk County are eligible for agricultural assessment tax rates if the farm meets certain conditions. Farms of less than seven acres can qualify for agricultural assessment tax rates if they averaged over $50,000 in annual sales during the previous two years. Farms of more than seven acres need to average $10,000 or more in sales during the last two years. The application link for the New York State Department of Taxation & Finance Office of Real Property Tax Services Agricultural Assessment is here.

Suffolk County is currently enrolled in four Agricultural Districts, a map of which can be found here. An application for the Suffolk County Agricultural Districts Program is here. For more information about the Suffolk County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board, the enrollment period for agricultural district inclusion and the Board’s meeting schedule, click here.


Farmers’ Markets, Farmstands and Vineyard Tasting Rooms

Suffolk County has actively worked to expand the number of local farmers’ markets across Long Island. Farmers’ markets are an excellent opportunity for both producers and consumers. They give consumers a convenient and affordable source of fresh, healthy food. For example, most of our farmers’ markets vendors accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and/or WIC coupons and are enrolled in the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP). Farmers’ markets help build the financial and social capital needed to sustain our communities and give customers the chance to meet our local growers.

For our producers, farmers’ markets give growers and fishermen the opportunity to realize retail profits by selling directly to their consumers. Farmers’ markets are frequently looking for new vendors, especially in value-added produce. Please reach out to the farmers’ market manager individually if you are interested in setting up a booth. Click here for the most current listing of Suffolk County farmers’ markets maintained by Cornell Cooperative Extension. The USDA Agricultural Marketing Services also maintains its own listing of farmers' markets.

Both the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service and NY State Agriculture & Markets offer grants and funding programs to establish new farmers’ markets, particularly in low-income and under-served communities. There are also a variety of non-profit organizations heavily involved in helping set-up and inventory farmers’ markets including Local Harvest, and the Farmers Market Coalition.

The Farmers Market Federation of New York can also serve as an excellent source of information, including information on signing up for their free wireless Electronic Benefits Transfer point-of-sale program, which allows markets to accept SNAP benefits.

Farmers who are interested in selling produce at a farmers’ market are encouraged to read the New Farmer’s Guide: Cultivating Success at Farmers Markets. This guide will help you choose the appropriate time and location to join a farmers’ market.

Suffolk County farmers supplement other agricultural and nutritional opportunities with well over one hundred local farm stands serving every pocket of Suffolk County. Discover Long Island has also developed its own Epicurean-oriented website which lists farmstands, farmers markets, agricultural tourism options, vineyards and microbreweries, etc. It is highly recommended. There are additional lists of local Suffolk County farmstands found here, here  and here (Winter markets).

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is also becoming a growing segment of the Long Island agricultural industry. When you become a member of a CSA, you’re purchasing a “share” of vegetables from a local Suffolk County farmer. CSA members pay for an entire season of produce upfront and this bulk payment enables farmers to plan for the entire growing season. Click here for a list of local Suffolk County CSAs.

The first Long Island vineyard was planted in 1973. Since that time, Suffolk County has become one of the most exciting wine producing regions in the country. Growing grapes and producing wine on Long Island gives our farmers access to one of the world’s most affluent markets in New York City and the surrounding metropolitan area. Given its lucrative marketing opportunities, beautiful oceanic and rural vistas, fertile soils, and generous farming climate (particularly the availability of PDR land), Suffolk County should continue to expand its global viticultural influence.  Discover Long Island can help you plan a daytrip or weekend around dining, shopping, wine-tasting and agricultural activities.


A Guide for Starting & Expanding Your Business

If You Are New to Farming

An excellent starting point for the next generation of farmers is the Guide to Farming in NYS put out by the Cornell Small Farms Program.

The USDA has new website that is a very useful starting point for new and aspiring farmers. It also offers links to individuals looking to support their local farm community. The New Farmers Discovery Tool helps new farmers find the resources for women, youth and military veterans in agriculture.

The Northeast Beginning Farmers Project is another good resource for new farmers, offering webinars, guidebooks, and online courses. This program has a strong pedigree within Cornell Cooperative Extension. There is an excellent FAQ section, as well as a template for a Business Plan, a must-do item for any aspiring farmer.

If you are interested in livestock or poultry farming, The Cornell Small Farms Program produces 'The Resource Guide to Direct Market Livestock and Poultry' which can help clarify and explain the complex laws associated with these industries including slaughtering and processing at the local, state, and federal levels. It can also guide you through various marketing channels. You can view the guide or download a copy here.

Some organizations like the Peconic Land Trust offer apprenticeship programs for new farmers. Please reach out to the organizations directly to receive information about these programs.

Farmland for a New Generation New York is a new program coordinated by American Farmland Trust, in partnership with the State of New York, agricultural organizations, land trusts and others, that helps farmers seeking land and landowners wanting to keep their land in farming. The program offers a statewide Resource Center ( with listings of farmland and farmers, training materials and events, and personal assistance. The Peconic Land Trust was recently selected as the LI region's "navigator" for American Farmland Trust's Farmland for a New Generation Program. As the LI navigator, the Trust staff can assist you in this process. Contact Stewardship Manager Jessie Marcus for more information at 631.283.3195.

NY FarmLink is a non-profit organization that offers financial consulting services to farmers free of charge. This organization can help you locate newly available agricultural properties. NY FarmNet is affiliated with NY FarmLink and plays an extremely important role in formulating a succession plan for your farming operation. Be sure to engage NY FarmNet early in the succession planning stages (10+ years or more).

The USDA has recently signed an agreement with officials from SCORE, the nation's largest volunteer network of business mentors, to support new and beginning farmers. This agreement provides new help resources for beginning ranchers, veterans, women, socially disadvantaged Americans and others, providing new tools to help them grow and thrive in agri-business. This initiative will be another tool to empower the work of many community-based organizations, cooperative extension and land grant universities, working with beginning farmers in their communities. Read the full press release for more information.

Licensing and Permits

Some farming operations and nearly all fishing operations require specific New York State and/or Suffolk County Permits. For assistance in identifying the relevant New York state permits, please visit their Business Licensing site which can guide you to the appropriate licensing and permitting requirements. For fishing licenses, the DEC lists the necessary and available licenses here

Suffolk County advises new businesses to meet first with the Health Department and use caution when starting a new food based business and/or before signing any lease or purchasing agreement on a new property. Find Business Resources related to Department of Health permitting here

If you plan on opening any business whose primary activity is selling ready-to-eat food for on- or off-premises consumption, you need a permit from the Suffolk County Department of Health Services (DHS) before you can open for business. If you plan on opening a market or wholesale food business (like a farmstand), you should contact the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets at (718) 722-2876.  Answers to questions on starting a food business in Suffolk can also be found on the DHS Business Resource Center webpage. 

Additionally, each town has its own zoning standards that must be met. Please be sure to be in close contact with your town’s zoning board when planning new construction or changing property use. Some things, like shellfish harvesting, require both a DEC license and a town permit.

Crop Insurance

Crop Insurance protects agricultural producers against crop losses resulting from circumstances beyond the producer's control. The program, which is administered by USDA's Risk Management Agent (RMA), offers several different plans of Multiple Peril Crop Insurance (MPCI) for most crops. Availability of these policy plans varies by state and county. For a listing of insurance companies and agents offering crop insurance coverage, visit RMA Online.

The Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program provides financial assistance to eligible producers affected by natural disasters. This federally funded program covers non-insurable crop losses and planting prevented by disasters. Eligible non-insurable crops include commercial crops and other agricultural commodities produced for food (including livestock feed) or fiber and may include other specialty crops such as floricultural, ornamental nursery, Christmas tree crops, turf grass sod, seed crops, aquaculture (including ornamental fish) and industrial crops.

Producers interested in receiving risk protection under this program must file an application for coverage and pay the application service fee prior to the crop's application closing date. These application closing dates are established by the New York State Farm Service Agency and are published annually. Suffolk County’s FSA Office is located in Riverhead and can be contacted at 631-727-5666.

Small Scale Food Processing

Small scale food production is one of the most rapidly expanding cottage industries in the United States. The slow-foodlocavore movement has undoubtedly played a massive role in encouraging small scale entrepreneurship. Suffolk County is ideally situated to take advantage of this unique cultural and economic trend. Suffolk County's robust agricultural sector, ranging from strawberries to corn, peaches to cabbage, is uniquely situated to serve high-end restaurants and affluent local consumers in nearby markets such as New York City, the Hamptons, New Jersey and Connecticut.

New businesses will need to receive licenses from the New York Agriculture and Markets and/or the Suffolk County Department of Health Services, depending upon the type of food being prepared and scale of operation. In many instances, as a small-scale food processor, you may only need a 20-C license from New York Agriculture & Markets.

New York State Small Business Development Center has written an easy-to-read guide to starting your own food production company. That guide, Recipe for Success: Selling Food Products can be downloaded here.

The Stony Brook University Incubator at Calverton is an economic development center designated to foster the growth and success of entrepreneurial companies. The facility in Calverton features an Agriculture Consumer Science Center and an Open Kitchen and is specifically tailored to suit the agricultural and food-services industries. The main goal of the incubator is to provide services and resources that will enable entrepreneurs to grow and leave the program financially sound. Conveniently located near the heart of the Suffolk County agricultural sector, the Calverton Incubator offers the resources necessary to experiment with new recipes and market new products. This new facility includes modernized kitchen, processing, and storage utilities which are being made available at affordable rental rates. Applications to rent space at the Stony Brook University Incubator at Calverton can be found here.

Another food incubator has recently opened on Suffolk County's South Fork. South Fork Kitchens, which opened in April 2014, was made possible by the East End Food Institute, an organization that works to support, promote and advocate for food producers on the East End. The kitchen has several ovens, a Hobart mixer, a tilt skillet, ample storage space and more. It is large enough to accommodate multiple users; those wishing to use the space can sign up for four-hour blocks of time around the clock. The commercial kitchen is located on the Stony Brook University Southampton campus. The facility also offers access to Business Development specialists and office space. For more information, please contact AFI at

The Cornell Food Venture Center (CFVC), helps food businesses introduce new food products into the marketplace. They provide educational materials, workshops and direct assistance with product safety evaluation, process development and regulatory compliance. They also provide referrals for business assistance, local suppliers and service providers.

The NYS Small Scale Food Processors Association was created to help preserve the small family farm. A community was created to help organize small-scale food processors. Information about beginning your business and becoming a member is here.

The Manufacturing and Technology Resource Consortium (MTRC) offers free consulting services and grants for small to medium sized manufacturers, including food manufacturing. The MTRC Supplemental Award awards grants including, but not limited to, feasibility studies, manufacturing expansion, research and development, and workforce development.

Marketing Opportunities

NYS Grown & Certified Food Program is the a statewide, multi-faceted food certification program designed to strengthen consumer confidence in New York products, address food product labeling, and assist New York farmers so they can take advantage of the growing market demand for foods locally grown and produced to a higher standard.New York State Grown & Certified is open to New York producers who adhere to the best practices in safe food handling and environmental stewardship. It is currently available to produce growers who are certified for Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and are participating in Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) plans. 

E-Commerce Platforms - If you are considering e-commerce sales to sell direct-to-consumer, you can check out several existing platforms that could assist you in getting online. This list of e-commerce platforms is not exhaustive and the Suffolk County Department of Economic Development & Planning does not endorse any of the platforms linked:

Agritourism - Suffolk County farmers are some of the most creative and innovative farmers in the country when it comes to agricultural tourism. Visitors can find vineyard tasting rooms, crop mazes, “pick-your-own” operations, harvest festivals, animal displays and petting zoos, hayrides and tractor pulls, and agricultural educational opportunities on Suffolk County farms. Suffolk County farmers engaged in agricultural tourism can consider membership to Discover Long Island, the County's designated marketing organization. Membership includes listing on the Discover Long Island website -  Be sure your operation is listed on the Farms and Orchards site -

Agricultural Funding Opportunities

The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service features agriculture-related funding information updated weekly and searchable by date and keyword. It is a good place to start for a listing of the most up-to-date grant opportunities and can be accessed here

New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets – NY Ag & Markets offers a rotating list of loans and funding opportunities related to sustainable agricultural practices, marketing and distribution processes, establishing farmer’s markets in low-income areas, etc. On special occasions, the County can apply for funding on the behalf of certain agencies or private organizations. Please click here for the most recent list of funding programs.

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA): Agricultural Marketing Services – The Agricultural Marketing Services administers four grant programs to help farmers and ranchers market the food they produce, including programs that further farmers markets, specialty crops such as fruit and vegetables, local food marketing, and cost-share programs to help farmers become organic.

USDA: Rural Energy For America Program (REAP) - REAP offers grants and guaranteed loans to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses in rural areas (of which most of the East End is eligible) purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements to their current operations. Helpful information regarding REAP opportunities in New York can be found here.

USDA: Rural Development: Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG) - The VAPG program helps agricultural producers enter into value-added activities related to the processing and/or marketing of bio-based, value-added products. Generating new products, creating and expanding marketing opportunities, and increasing producer income are the goals of this program. You may receive priority if you are a beginning farmer or rancher, a socially-disadvantaged farmer or rancher, a small or medium-sized farm or ranch structured as a family farm, a farmer or rancher cooperative, or are proposing a mid-tier value chain. 

USDA: Small Business Innovation Research makes competitively awarded grants to qualified small businesses to support high quality, advanced concepts research related to important scientific problems and opportunities in agriculture that could lead to significant public benefit if successful.

Farmwork Housing Assistance - The federal government has created a list of resources to provide options for alternative housing for farmworkers. Options include various federal grants, loans, programs, and services, as well as links to state and local resources.

The Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education agency offers grants for growers, cooperatives, municipalities, and other organizations. Applications are due each November. For information about these grant opportunities, click here.

Fair Food Fund - Northeast - FFFNE provides support to enterprises that are working to build a more just and sustainable food system. They target entrepreneurs that are building the middle of the regional food supply chain and whose businesses will improve the viability of small and mid-scale farms in the Northeast. FFFNE provides capital to enterprises that are established and need funding to take the next step in their growth.

The AgEnhancement Grant Program is an ongoing educational campaign that supports projects, events, and other activities that promote and strengthen agriculture and commercial fishing industries in the region. Awards range from $500 to $8,000. Proposals are accepted on a rolling basis and are considered three times a year. 

ReCharge NY (RNY) is an economic development power program designed to retain and create jobs through allocations of low-cost power. The programs is open to businesses and non-profit organizations including farms, greenhouses, and aquaculture operations. Allocations of RNY power are made through a competitive application process and contract terms may last up to seven years. Enrollment is open year-round and applicants can begin the process through the Consolidated Funding Application. RNY is classified as a 'Low Cost Power' program, accessible under 'Direct Assistance to Business' or 'Energy and Environmental Projects'.

Good Handling Practices Certification Assistance Program NYS Good Agricultural Practices is provided by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets (NYSDAM). NYSDAM will reimburse up to $1,000 of the cost of having NYSDAM/USDA, or a qualified private auditing company, conduct third party audit(s), including water tests, to verify an establishment’s food safety program. Participating growers/packers/handlers will be responsible for paying any balance due above $1,000. You can also find the application here.

Loan and Financing Opportunities

The Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency encourages job growth on Long Island by providing economic incentives to retain businesses in Suffolk County and encourage new businesses to relocate here. IDA financing and tax abatements are available for moderate and large-sized organizations. Value-added farm and fishing projects are eligible, such as processing and packaging facilities, as well as aquaculture projects.

Long Island Development Corporation (LIDC) is part of a 501C3 not-for-profit economic development family providing a variety of low cost loan programs and free technical assistance to help businesses and not-for-profit organizations in New York, concentrating on Long Island. For more information visit or call 516-433-5000. 

New York State Targeted Loan Fund - Loans range up to $500,000 with low, long term and fixed interest rates that can be used for working capital, equipment and other business purposes in targeted industries commercial agriculture and commercial fishing. For more information, please call the Long Island Development Corporation at (516) 433-5000 or email

Small Business Administration Loans - Available programs include SBA 504 subordinate loans of up to $5 million to assist small businesses to buy land and renovate buildings and machinery. The SBA 7(a) loan program offers financial assistance to businesses with special requirements, including NAFTA impacts, exporting businesses, rural businesses and operations in underserved communities.

Farm Services Agency (FSA) - If traditional loan or financing options (such as commercial banks) are unavailable to you, you should check-in with the Farm Service Agency. The FSA makes and guarantees loans to family farmers. Loans are either made directly through the agency or guaranteed through a commercial lender.The FSA has a variety of low interest loans and crop insurance programs that may be suited to your farming operation. The Suffolk County FSA office is located in Riverhead and can be reached at (631) 727-5666.

Whole Foods Local Producer Loan Program - Farmers and fishermen looking to expand their production, harvest new products, or invest in new equipment and infrastructure may be eligible for a loan of up to $100,000 at a low fixed interest rate through the Whole Foods Local Producer Loan Program. Applicants must meet Whole Foods Quality Standards and preference is given to vendors who already have an existing relationship with Whole Foods. You can find more information here. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. If you are interested in becoming a Whole Foods vendor, please contact the regional Northeast office at 201-567-2090.

Samuel Adams: Brewing The American Dream - In partnership with the non-profit microlender, Accion, Samuel Adams 'Brewing the American Dream' works with small food, beverage, craft brewing, and hospitality businesses nationwide by providing expert business coaching and advising with access to small business capital. This includes speed coaching, a pitch room competition, and targeted microloans. 

Crowdfunding and Alternative Sources of Capital
There are several sources of alternative financing through crowdfunding sites such as  - Kiva, Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Barnraiser. Many of these sites, and financing options like Slow Money, have social missions in mind, with an emphasis on 'sustainability'.

Minority and Women-Owned Business Assistance (MWBE)

Minority and women-operated farms, nurseries, landscaping, fishing and aquaculture businesses are one of the fastest-growing segments within these industries.

The Small Business Development Center can help you get your operation started by developing a business plan and/or helping you finds financing for your operation. Suffolk County boasts two SBDC’s - one in Farmingdale and one in Stony Brook. Stony Brook’s Small Business Development Center also has an affiliation with the Business Incubator in Calverton, which is spearheading efforts to produce and market “value-added” Long Island products and produce.

Empire State Development Division of Minority & Women Business Development helps promote equality of economic opportunities for MWBEs and to eliminate barriers to their participation in state contracts. They supplement New York State’s economic leadership with information and resources that increase access opportunities for minority and women-owned businesses throughout the State.

The Long Island Small Business Assistance Corp. (LISBAC) loans up to $25,000, low fixed rate, long term, no prepayment penalty for start-up or existing businesses with less than 100 employees. Loans are focused on businesses owned by women, minorities or located in low-to-moderate income areas.

La Fuerza Unida Community Development Corporation promotes sustainable economic growth in Long Island by providing minority and women owned enterprises access to capital, business development services and other tools which will create jobs, community wealth and long-term prosperity.

The Suffolk County Women’s Business Enterprise Coalition (SCWBEC) provide women with tools to compete effectively for contracts with Suffolk County government and local municipal corporations (towns, villages, hospitals and educational institutions) and to engage in other profitable business activities. The SCWBEC also offers excellent networking opportunities for woman-owned businesses

Suffolk County Minority/Women Business Enterprise (M/WBE) Certification will place your information on the Suffolk County M/WBE Directory. The Directory contains a database of Minority & Women owned businesses by National Institute of Government Purchasing (NIGP) code stating the type of goods and services offered. This enables companies seeking particular goods and services to find M/WBE's via code. To apply for certification as a Suffolk County M/WBE, you can download the application here.

New York Agri-Women is a non-profit organization composed of women involved in agriculture across the country. The purpose of the organization is to educate consumers, elected officials, and members of the agricultural community about issues that impact local agriculture.

Finally, the USDA Farm Service Agency earmarks specific funds for socially disadvantaged and beginning farmers. More information can be found on the FSA Fact Sheet, “Loans for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers”. The USDA also maintains a registry of minority farmers who serve as a valuable educational and networking resource for aspiring farmers. Additionally, in February 2015, the USDA announced the 'Women in Agriculture Mentoring Network'. Find more information about that valuable network here.

Funding for Conservation and Agricultural Stewardship 

The Suffolk County Soil & Water Conservation District has been awarded grant funds to develop Certified Nutrient Management Plans for Suffolk County agricultural producers (up to a $10,000 value). Conservation plans assess and identify opportunities for the Best Management Practices unique to your farm operation. Conservation planning opens the doors for additional grant funding to implement Best Management Practices on your farm. Best Management Practices that have received funding in the past include; Replacement of old fuel tanks, Ag Chemical Mixing Facilities, Irrigation upgrades, Micro-irrigation, Chemical Recycling Sprayers, Buffers, Cover Cropping, and Waste Storage Facilities. Please let the Suffolk County Soil and Water Conservation District assist you in achieving your land and water stewardship goals. Please call or visit the SWCD office in Riverhead to learn more

3 Ways to take advantage of this opportunity:

  • Complete an Agricultural Environmental Management (Tier 1) form to begin conservation planning process
  • Visit the SWCD/USDA/FSA Service Center (423 Griffing Avenue, Riverhead).
  • Call the SWCD office (631) 852-3285 (M-F 7:30 AM – 4:00 PM)

United States Department of Agriculture: Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) – Through the NRCS, the USDA offers voluntary programs to eligible landowners and agricultural producers. The programs provide financial and technical assistance to help manage natural resources in a sustainable manner. These programs include The Agricultural Management Assistance, Conservation Innovation Grants, The Conservation Stewardship Program and The Environmental Quality Incentives Program. The local NRCS office is based in Riverhead and works closely with the Suffolk County Soil and Water Conservation District. They can be reached at (631) 727-2315.

The New York State Pollution Prevention Institute (NYSP2I) is a research center that is dedicated to helping New York State residents and businesses find implementable and cost-effective sustainability solutions. NYSP2I has worked on a variety of initiatives with the food and beverage production sector over the past 7 years, including projects with over 50 food production companies across the state, providing food waste resource location, direct business and technical expertise, industry workshops, workforce training and engineering assessments that reduced operational cost and environmental impacts. Contact NYSP2I to learn more about how they can work with your company to better understand food production challenges and collaborate on possible solutions.

Food Assistance Programs

Given our rich soils, temperate climate, and coastal access, Long Island is capable of harvesting some of the world’s freshest, best-tasting produce. However, it is important to ensure that access to fresh produce is not limited by financial hardship. Fortunately, the federal government provides several services designed to expand access to fresh produce. If you will be selling your farm or seafood produce directly to the consumer, please be sure to be enrolled in the following programs in order to maximize your consumer base.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance ProgramSNAP is the new name for the Federal Food Stamp program. You can sign-up to accept SNAP at your farm stand or farmers’ market online. For additional information, you can contact the USDA Food and Nutrition Service office that serves Long Island at 212-620-7360. Fortunately, if you do not already have a credit card/debit card terminal, New York State, via JP Morgan/Chase, can provide a dedicated Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card terminal free of charge if your business meets specified criteria. It's extremely important to point out that through EBT, using and accepting SNAP benefits has become as simple as accepting credit and debit cards. It can be an important source of additional income for any enterprising food provider.

WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program – a Congressionally-authorized program designed to provide resources in the form of fresh, nutritious, unprepared foods (fruits and vegetables) from farmers’ markets to women, infants, and children who are 'nutritionally at risk.'

Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program - A new program in which grants are awarded to States to provide low-income seniors with coupons that can be exchanged for eligible foods at farmers' markets, roadside stands, and community support agriculture programs.

To participate in FMNP programs and accept these checks, farmers must produce at least 50% of the fruits and vegetables they offer for sale on market day during the program period of June 1 - November 15. They must also complete and sign a FMNP Farmer Participation Agreement and a crop plan. This paperwork must be submitted by a farmers' market manager to New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. Once the paperwork is accepted, the farmer will receive laminated signs that must be displayed stating, 'We Gladly Accept NYS Farmers' Market Checks.' The farmer will also receive a check cancellation stamp, stamp pad, and farmer ID card. The signed ID card must be presented with the cancelled (stamped) FMNP checks at the bank. It is important to note that farmers must re-apply annually. Additionally, only locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables may be purchased with these checks. Other locally grown goods, such as eggs, honey or baked goods cannot be purchased.


Aquaculture & Marine

Recreational Fishing in Suffolk County

Suffolk County has many charter and party boats that will take paying passengers for a full day or several hours of recreational fishing. On most boats, fishing gear and bait is provided. In most cases, passengers are permitted to bring their own gear if they prefer. If you are looking to take a party or charter boat trip on Long Island, please consult the following directory. Alternatively, if you are looking for a bait and tackle shop in Suffolk County, please consult the following directory. For more information in general about marine and fishing-based recreational opportunities in Suffolk County, please visit at the following link. You can also find a list of freshwater fishing locations in Suffolk County, and the diverse fish stocks offered at each location, on the DEC website.

Aquaculture Programs

Shellfish farming is an opportunity to produce seafood in an environmentally responsible manner in Suffolk County. In fact, the Suffolk County Economic Development & Planning Department has identified aquaculture programs as an important driver of sustainable economic growth. Our waters once provided a substantial portion of the world’s hard clams, scallops, and oysters. As Suffolk County works to restore our waterways and bays to their former ecological balance, we are also focused on reviving our shellfish industry and restoring it to its former glory. To do so, Suffolk County continues to take steps to clean our waters and re-introduce shellfish stocks.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is the agency responsible for issuing on/off bottom shellfish culture permits for shellfish aquaculture. Any aquaculture operation where the applicant proposes off-bottom culture is also reviewed by the Department of State's Coastal Management Program and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for consistency with coastal regulations. The NYS DEC authorizes shellfish aquaculture on public underwater lands in the Long Island Sound through the issuance of Temporary Marine Area Use Assignment (TMAUA) permits for off-bottom shellfish culture only. An assignment is defined as a five-acre circular-shaped area that must be located at least 1,250 feet from the shoreline and one-mile distant from established TMAUA holders. To apply for Marine Permits or Licenses or get more details, contact the Marine Permit Office at 631-444-0470 or email

The Suffolk County Shellfish Aquaculture Lease Program – This program provides an opportunity to obtain secure access to County-owned underwater lands for private, commercial shellfish aquaculture in Peconic Bay and Gardiners Bay. Implementation of the lease program is intended to expand the marine-based economy by increasing private investment in shellfish aquaculture businesses at secure locations which will not pose conflicts with commercial fishermen and other bay users. The production of large numbers of oysters, hard clams and bay scallops in dense populations on shellfish farms will augment the spawning potential of native shellfish populations. The millions of filter feeding bivalves on shellfish farms will also exert a positive influence on water quality by helping to control nutrient cycling and contributing to the prevention of noxious plankton blooms, such as brown tide. These and other ecosystem services associated with shellfish farms are provided on a sustainable basis at little or no cost to the general public.

Leases are issued on an annual basis with application cycles starting at the beginning of the calendar year. If you are interested in participating in the Suffolk County Shellfish Aquaculture Lease Program, please visit our website or contact Susan Filipowich, Environmental Planner, at (631) 853-4775 or email

The Town of Islip Bay Bottom Leasing Program - Islip's Bay Bottom Leasing Program encompasses over 100 acres of Town-owned bay bottom in the Great South Bay. Lease Parcels range from 1 to 5 acres in size and are open to off-bottom culture methods only. The plots are leased at $750 per acre, under five-year agreements between the Town and the lessee.

The Town of Brookhaven is currently in the process of developing its own aquaculture leasing program. Please contact the Town of Brookhaven Division of Environmental Protection at (631)451-6455 for more information.

Suffolk Project in Aquaculture Training (SPAT) – Oysters, clams, and other shellfish serve as natural filters in the marine ecosystem. One important reason Suffolk County encourages shellfish farming is because it can help restore our natural habitats. In this spirit, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County augments its own bay seeding program with SPAT, a training workshop where volunteers help seed and grow their own shellfish gardens at their own waterfront or in a SPAT community garden.

The Suffolk County Marine Environmental Learning Center (SCMELC) – Also affiliated with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, SCMELC acts as an incubator for shellfish farming businesses. This includes new business startup assistance, help with permit applications, problem solving (marketing opportunities, gear improvements, etc.), as well as demonstrations on new techniques. Aquaculturalists and shellfish harvesters should contact Gregg Rivara at for more information.

Regulatory Overviews for Aquaculture

New York Sea Grant has been coordinating a Seafood Processing and Marketing Task Force with Federal, State, and Local agencies, industry groups and extension personnel to address hurdles and opportunities for alternative marketing strategies for seafood in NY State. Using existing resources and reviewing current regulatory requirements and guidelines the task force has created a series of resource guides that outline the requirements for processing and marketing seafood in New York. The guides, which can be assessed here, include information on New York labelling requirements, safety, HACCP protocols, good manufacturing practices, sanitation, allergens and cross-contact, marketing, and delivery and mailing.

The Interagency Working Group on Aquaculture (IWG-A) has released a guide, Information for Shellfish Growers, to help navigate the shellfish aquaculture permit process in the United States. The guide is designed to help shellfish farmers understand the main types of leases, permits, or other forms of authorization need for a commercial shellfish farm. The guide also includes links to additional sources of information and contacts who can help growers identify the specific requirements for their respective state or region.

For a comprehensive overview of shellfish management in New York, please see the following attachment. It is an overview of the regulatory permitting programs applicable to shellfish restoration in New York including all government, non-profit and private business efforts. 

Most recently, the University of Maryland published the Northeast Regional Aquaculture Center Barriers to Entry Report which can be found here. Aquaculture information gathered for this project was divided into marine systems and freshwater/land-based culture system. This project also identifies individual contact information for those with aquaculture responsibilities in each state.

Finally, the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association, an advocacy organization for the shellfish aquaculture industry, has a wealth of information for new and existing growers, including best management practices, certified shippers list, local Extension contacts, hatchery and nursery lists, sanitation guides, workshop videos, and even 'rookie mistakes to avoid'. 

Funding Opportunities

NOAA Fisheries Guide to Federal Aquaculture Grant Services - This guide focuses on federal grant programs that aquaculture producers, researchers, and other stakeholders may be eligible for.

Empire State Development offers loans for capital projects (land, building, equipment) for acquisition and/or renovation, up to 40% of the project cost, generally up to $2.5 million with low fixed and floating rate loans, long-term. See

Long Island Development Corporation (LIDC) is part of a 501C3 not-for-profit economic development family providing a variety of low cost loan programs and free technical assistance to help businesses and not-for-profit organizations in New York, concentrating on Long Island. For more information visit or call 516-433-5000. 

The Long Island Small Business Assistance Corp. (LISBAC) loans up to $25,000, low fixed rate, long term, no prepayment penalty for start-up or existing businesses with less than 100 employees. Loans are focused on businesses owned by women, minorities or located in low-to-moderate income areas.

New York State Targeted Loan Fund - Loans range up to $500,000 with low, long term and fixed interest rates that can be used for working capital, equipment and other business purposes in targeted industries commercial agriculture and commercial fishing. For more information, please call the Long Island Development Corporation at (516) 433-5000 or email

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) works with both the public and private sectors to protect and restore our nation’s fish, wildlife, plants and habitats. They frequently make grants in support of Long Island fishery management, innovative research efforts, water and watershed conservation efforts, coastal resiliency, and bycatch reduction. You can search through their grant offerings here.

National Marine Aquaculture Initiative is coordinated by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Sea Grant and encourages scientific research and development to support a robust, sustainable domestic marine aquaculture industry. Projects often involve partnerships among commercial companies, research institutions, universities, state governments, and coastal communities.

NOAA Fisheries Finance Program - The Fisheries Finance Program provides long-term financing (up to 25 years) in the form of direct loans for up to 80% of the cost of construction, reconstruction, expansion, and purchase of aquaculture and commercial fishing facilities. The program may also refinance existing loans and there are no early repayment penalties.

NOAA Small Business Innovation Research invests in aquaculture research and development, which encourages small businesses to leverage federal funds to invest in innovative technologies and next-generation products and processes that may lead to commercialization.

Saltonstall-Kennedy Grant Program - The Saltonstall-Kennedy Grant Program (SKGP) funds projects that encourage the development of an environmentally and economically sustainable U.S. fishing industry. Please check the website for grant opportunities as funding availability fluctuates from year-to-year.


Helpful Organizations and Links

  • Captree Boatmans Association Inc - The Captree fleet is the largest fishing fleet in long island members boats includes open boats. Charter boats, site seeing boats and Dive Boats.
  • Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County – the local website for the pre-eminent source of on-the-ground agricultural and fisheries assistance.
  • Discover Long Island - The official tourism promotion agency responsible for promoting the Long Island region as a destination for tourism, meetings, conventions and sporting events.
  • East End Food Institute - East End Food Institute - EEFI's mission is to support, promote, and advocate for the farmers, vintners, fishermen, and other food producers and providers on the East End of Long Island.
  • East End Tourism Alliance - responsible for the promotion of the East End region as a travel destination for visitors, meetings, weddings, seasonal vacations, day trips and overnight stays.
  • Farm Credit East – a specialized lending and financial services agency servicing northeast agricultural and commercial fishing businesses.
  • Local Harvest – This website allows you to search for organic farms, CSAs, farmers’ markets, restaurants, grocery stores and meat processors by geography.
  • Long Island Cauliflower Association - Long Island's last remaining full-service farm supply company. The Long Island Cauliflower Association serves vegetable growers, sod growers, wine grape growers, nurserymen, landscapers, greenhouse growers, municipalities, school districts, and homeowners. 
  • Long Island Development Corporation - Low cost terms loans for commercial fishermen, agricultural producers and related companies, manufacturers, etc.
  • Long Island Farm Bureau – non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the interests of Long Island-based farmers and fishermen.
  • Long Island Food Council - The Long Island Food Council was created to bring people together, to create collaboration amongst food, beverage and service professionals in the region. These valuable connections enable the council to provide a platform for education and dialogue at monthly meetings and events. In recognizing the economic potential in the food and beverage industry on Long Island the Council continually strives to bridge the gap between industry, academia and all levels of government.
  • Long Island Oyster Growers Association - a community-based association representing the social, economic, environmental and political interests of Long Island Oyster Growers.
  • Long Island Wine Council – Industry association dedicated to promoting the efforts of Long Island grape growers and wine producers.
  • Montauk Boatmans & Captains Association - an organization of charter and open boat captains who operate out of Montauk. It is the largest group of full time professional charter and party boat captains sailing out of the same port in the entire country.
  • National Agricultural Statistics Service - The USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) conducts hundreds of surveys every year and prepares reports covering virtually every aspect of U.S. agriculture. NASS is committed to providing timely, accurate, and useful statistics in service to U.S. agriculture.
  • New York Department of Agriculture & Markets – promotes the economic viability of agriculture, fosters agricultural environmental stewardship, and safeguards food quality in the state of New York.
  • New York Farm Bureau – non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the interests of New York state farmers.
  • New York Farmland Trust – the local division of the American Farmland Trust, the New York Farmland Trust is a non-profit devoted to preserving agriculture as an important environmentally sustainable industry that advances overall food quality and protects New York’s cultural heritage.
  • North Fork Charter Boat Association - a dedicated organization of professional mariners that provide decades of experience to anglers that sail with them. At present, boats sail from Southold, Greenport, and Orient Point. The vessels of the North Fork Captains Association provide anglers with various sailing times, and options for open boat, and private charter excursions that can accommodate fly-casting, or wheel chair accessibility needs.
  • NY FarmLink - a non-profit organization that offers financial consulting services to new and existing farmers. This organization also helps new or expanding farmers locate new agricultural properties.
  • NY FarmNet - provides farm families with a network of contacts and support services to help them develop skills for dealing with life challenges and transitions - through personalized education, confidential consulting, and referral. This network covers every aspect of high-pressure decision making from partnerships and transfers to stress management, family communication, domestic concerns, and disaster response.
  • NY Farm Services Agency - The FSA has a variety of low interest loans and crop insurance programs that may be suited to your farming operation. The Suffolk County FSA office is located in Riverhead and can be reached at (631) 727-5666.
  • New York Farm Viability Institute – a farmer-led non-profit that awards grant funds for applied research and outreach education projects that help farmers increase profits. Ideally, funded projects, when successful, would serve as replicable models for other farmers.
  • New York State Sea Grant - New York State Sea Grant supports nearly 50 research and outreach projects annually in technology and product development, fisheries, coastal environmental quality and processes, aquatic nuisance species and other areas of special interest.
  • New York State Vegetable Growers Association – a non-profit organization that serves commercial fresh market, storage, and processing vegetable growers. Promotes New York producers at the local, regional, and national levels.
  • Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY) – an organization of consumers, gardeners, and farmers promoting land stewardship and organic food production. NOFA-NY has been accredited by the USDA National Organic Program to certify organic farmers and processors in New York.
  • Peconic Land Trust – a non-profit organization dedicated to conserving Long Island’s working farms and natural lands. Heavily-involved in farmland preservation programs.
  • Suffolk County Division of Planning and the Environment – the County’s highly professional staff of planners, environmental analysts, and others are dedicated to protecting the broad, long-term vision of Suffolk County development. This division is integrally involved in Suffolk County’s farmland and open space preservation programs.
  • Suffolk County Food Policy Council - created by the Suffolk County legislature in 2011 to promote the production, distribution, consumption and awareness of healthy, locally grown food.
  • Suffolk County Soil and Water Conservation District – the County district devoted to preserving and maintaining Suffolk’s superior soil and water quality. Helps farmers control sediment erosion and develop irrigation and drainage strategies.
  • USDA Economic Research Service - Another comprehensive source relating to the economics and statistics of U.S. agriculture.


Suffolk County Government

H. Lee Dennison Bldg

100 Veterans Memorial Hwy
P.O. Box 6100
Hauppauge, NY 11788

Riverhead County Center

County Road 51
Riverhead, NY 11901