A dismal forecast for dairy

NORWICH – Both immediate measures and long-term reforms are needed to ensure the future viability of New York’s dairy industry, according to the head of the state’s Department of Agriculture and Markets.

“It’s time for agriculture to rally around dairy, and time for rural business to do the same,” said New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker as he addressed more than 100 local business leaders at Commerce Chenango’s annual Economic Forecast Breakfast Tuesday.

Hooker was the keynote speaker at the event, which was held at the Howard Johnson’s Hotel in Norwich. The looming crisis for dairy farmers was one of the topics he addressed in his discussion of issues facing the state’s largest industry, agriculture.

“There are 35,000 families across the state in this business,” Hooker said. According to him, the industry contributes $25 billion to the New York State economy, $4 billion of which are “direct sales at the farm gate.”

“New York is a tremendous state to grow things in,” he explained, citing the high quality of our natural resources, mineral-rich soils and abundance of water. These factors make the state an ideal location for growing fruits and vegetables, which make up 40 percent of New York’s ag industry.

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