New York State’s production of fresh vegetables and fruits in controlled environment agriculture (CEA) facilities is likely to grow explosively over the next decade. This surge will stem from water quality and other problems resulting in field-crop contamination sources in major vegetable growing states. These health and safety concerns combined with rising energy and fertilizer costs will position the Empire State to resume a larger food production role.
CEA crops will have consistently high quality, will be available “out-of-season,” and will be grown with little or no pesticide. Currently, the “out–of-season” fresh vegetable markets (e.g. lettuce, tomatoes, spinach and green peppers) are dominated by southern and western United States growers and foreign producers. The development of a vibrant New York CEA industry will provide a major economic boost to the state’s agricultural sector.
In 2020 the impact will include:
- 1,000–1,500 acres of greenhouses
- 10,000–15,000 jobs (10 jobs/acre)
- $400–600 million annual sales ($40,000 sales/job)
Beyond the economic impact, there are several additional benefits and likely outcomes from a strong CEA industry:
By 2020, NYS is likely to be recognized as the leader of the CEA industry in the Northeast, where CEA is an established and growing industry. As a result of a coordinated and integrated statewide effort, CEA facilities and products are available across the state in both rural and urban settings.
Locally grown CEA fruits and vegetables are both publicly accepted and expected in grocery stores, restaurants and public markets because of their quality, safety, cost competitiveness and availability in NYS.
The establishment of a strong CEA industry has created a stable, community-based agricultural workforce that is well-integrated into the local community.
Due to progressive state policies and tax incentives, CEA facilities are developed atop capped Brownfield sites and support sustainable, green urban development.
At the state and federal levels, energy policies to encourage energy efficiency and renewable energy development support the development of energy-efficient CEA projects that manage electrical loads in order to minimize peak demand and use indigenous energy resources such as stranded natural gas, off-grid wind, biomass, landfill, and biogas to provide combined heat and power.
In NYS, the combination of energy efficiency, decentralized power generation, and supportive net-metering policies, has CEA systems tied into and supporting the electric grid wherever possible. These sites use off-peak utility resources, to minimize utility system use during peak demands thereby boosting utility system reliability for all consumers.
By 2020, New York has established a world-class regional network of CEA Academic programs to lead the way in the development of new CEA technology, technology transfer and workforce training.
New York’s favorable business and regulatory climate has attracted many new jobs and high-tech agricultural industries, and its competitive advantages in R&D, market pull, and access to financial markets have all contributed to its success.
Building on its base of fruit and vegetable production, the CEA industry in New York has diversified into such areas of research, development, and commercialization as nutriceuticals and pharmaceuticals derived from CEA.