ALBANY – County legislators from across New York have joined forces to reaffirm the importance of agriculture to the state economy with a series of recommendations designed to strengthen the many-faceted industry.
“For Chenango County, the farming industry is priority number one,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Richard Decker in March, after the first meeting of the New York Association of Counties’ newly formed Blue Ribbon Taskforce on the Future of Farming in New York State. The Town of North Norwich Supervisor was one of the initial 25 representatives on the committee, which has since swelled to encompass 45 county leaders from across the state.
Over the last six months, the committee has worked in conjunction with other organizations - such as the New York Farm Bureau, American Farmland Trust, Farm Credit East and NYS Department of Agriculture - to craft a number of state and federal policy recommendations designed to support and promote agriculture with a goal of stabilizing the industry in the short term and “sow the seeds” of long-term growth.
“For centuries, New York farmers have harvested the land for fruit and vegetables, raised livestock for food and dairy needs. We have the climate, topography and soil that make it ideal for growing conditions; and we have a premier location for reaching large food markets all over the Northeast,” explained NYSAC President William Ryan, a Westchester County legislator. “We need state leaders to recognize these strengths and provide our farmers with tools to take advantage of them.”
The report cites a number of policy decisions which have placed New York farms in jeopardy including federal milk pricing policies, budget cuts and new regulations. To address the challenges faced by dairy farmers across the state, the taskforce’s recommendations include enhancing milk processing reporting; improving method used to determine “supply and demand” forecasting for dairy products; establishing a Commission on Federal Milk Marketing Orders; and removing dairy price support programs.
NYSAC is also advocating that the state reinstate funding for the NY Farm Viability Institute, the Center for Dairy Excellence and the Farmland Protection Program; expand farm to market and Pride of New York programs; redevelop New York’s Hunts Point Terminal; and establish an agriculture economic development fund...