Editor’s Note: This is the first in a three-part series describing a tour of Chenango County agriculture that was offered up this month to New York State’s elected officials. The bus stops highlighted the county’s unique ag businesses, but also pointed to the governmental regulations that challenge them.
NORWICH – Chenango County pitched over much more than a bail of hay last week to New York State officials who visited a sampling of the types of enterprises that make up the local agricultural industry.
Using a three-pronged approach, the tour showcased the cutting-edge conservation practices in place on the Tumilowicz Dairy farm, highlighted the new demand for milk from Chobani yogurt’s parent, Agro Farma Inc. and displayed the innovate organic vegetable and fruit growing systems under cover at Norwich Meadows Farms.
A bevy of agencies hosted the event, including Cornell Cooperative Extension, Chenango County Farm Bureau, Commerce Chenango, the Chenango County Planning and Development Department and Chenango County Soil and Water Conservation District. Numerous county supervisors made up the 34 in attendance. State officials on hand were: New York State Assembly members Donna Lupardo (D-126th Dist.) and Peter Lopez (R-127th Dist.) and staff representatives from the offices of Assemblyman William Magee and Senators James Seward (R-51st Dist.) and Thomas Libous (R-52nd Dist.)
The 200-acres plus Tumilowicz Dairy, now going on its third generation in Norwich, is one of 213 dairies in Chenango County. And like most, with rising input costs for everything from fuel to feed flying in the face of stagnant milk prices, farmers Bob Tumilowicz and his son, Alex, have used available state and federal financial assistance programs to manage the pressure.
Over the past decade, the Tumilowiczes have expanded their barn in order to increase the milking herd to 80 cows; poured a concrete, ribbed and sloped barnyard surface that stores manure and keeps rainwater separate; dug a new well and piped fresh water to 10 water troughs; erected high tensile fencing; and built riparian buffers and paddock crossings that keep cattle out of streams, ponds and any standing water.