The Cornell Small Farms Program has announecd a new development in the emerging log-grown mushroom industry; New York State has officially designated “actively managed log-grown woodland mushrooms” within the meaning of the term “crops, livestock and livestock products,” for purposes of provisions of law relating to agricultural districts.

The bill, introduced by Bill Magee in the NYS Assembly and signed by Governor Cuomo in September, means that farmers will be able to designate lands used for cultivation as agricultural, leading to tax breaks and other benefits. The provision further clarifies that mushrooms are seen as a significant agricultural crop and designates the intentional farming of mushrooms from wild harvesting.

Forest mushroom cultivation has recently been growing in popularity among farmers, due to the abundance of forest resources and the relative low-cost of startup operations. Cornell University has led an effort to develop both cultivation procedures as well as look at the economics of production. A 2009 – 2012 research grant, where Cornell partnered with University of Vermont and Chatham University, found that farmers could make a profit in year two and make $9,000 in profit with a 500 log operation over five years.

The legislative effort was led by Steve Sierigk of Hawk Meadow Farms in Hector NY, Steve Gabriel, Agroforestry Specialist for Cornell Small Farms Program, and Lindsay Wickham, Area Field Supervisor for New York Farm Bureau. The Farm Bureau drafted language and worked with assembly members to introduce and ultimately pass the bill.

“Our deep appreciation goes to the NY Farm Bureau for their continued efforts on behalf of farmers, ” notes Gabriel, “Along with the economic and environmental benefits of log-grown mushrooms, we can now offer further benefit to New York farmers in the form of tax incentives for growing.”