Tempers flare over ag council request for funding

NORWICH – A request for seed money from the county’s infrastructure, promotion and business development fund was granted Tuesday, but not before tempers flared.

The Chenango County Planning & Economic Development Committee agreed by a vote of 3 to 1 to fund the Agricultural Development Council with $12,500 for the first phase of research regarding a potential mobile farmer’s market in the City of Norwich and, if deemed successful, $15,940 for the second phase. The council requested $56,760 for the project, called “Chenango Bounty At Your Door.”

Supervisor David J. Messineo, D-Otselic, objected, calling any support of it “hypocritical” and accusing his committee and the ag council of “playing games with semantics.”

“I thought we kicked this around the last time they were here for money,” Messineo said. “This is market research for a profit-making company. I was told we couldn’t use this fund to help for-profits.”

Members of the ADC, a county -authorized agency, first presented their plan to committee on May 8. The project would enable the Chenango County farmers to sell and distribute locally produced goods at wholesale prices to local customers. The research portion is planned for this summer, with a pilot project scheduled for fall. The business is intended to be up and running in Norwich, but could be duplicated elsewhere in the county.

Representatives from the Center for Agricultural Development and Entrepreneurship (CADE) in Oneonta and Norwich Meadows Farms would partner in the endeavor. The group originally asked for $52,500.

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