Did you know that New York is one of the nation’s leading agricultural states? Or that New York State agriculture generates well over $5-billion in revenue annually? Or that, according to the latest data available, when you figure in all sectors of agriculture, including processing and support businesses that provide feed, supplies, machinery, and services, the industry provides work for nearly 200,000 New Yorkers?
Our farmers are world-class producers of dairy products. We rank first in the nation in yogurt, cottage cheese, and sour cream production, third in milk and Italian cheese production, and fourth in total cheese production. We’re the second-largest producer of maple syrup, apples, cabbage, and snap peas; third in grapes (and recognized around the world for great, often distinguished and celebrated wines and wineries); and fifth in production of tart cherries and squash. Honey and other fruits and vegetables (e.g. potatoes, sweet corn) are of significant economic importance, as well.
Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) has long acknowledged just how important these economic contributions can be; especially to our local communities. And CCE recognizes the environmental and cultural contributions made by agriculture, too. The Extension’s Northern NY Agriculture Program serves farmers and rural land owners with commercial and part-time agricultural business enterprises in Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence Counties, with a focus on farm sustainability and resilience, including improving energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Regional teams of Extension agriculture specialists and county educators provide resources and deliver programs related to dairy farming, livestock management, agronomy, agricultural economic development, and much more. They draw on up-to-the-minute, world-class research and employ proven, research-based practices and innovative solutions to help growers and producers achieve and maintain economic vitality, ecological sustainability, and social well-being (e.g. farm modernization and labor developing tools, pest and disease management techniques, facilitating access to emerging markets).
But, CCE doesn’t just provide assistance to large producers of agricultural and horticultural products. They assist small producers, organic growers, community gardeners, and hobbyists too. They know that all of their clients want their businesses or gardens to be sustainable and profitable, but that each is unique and that each has different needs.
The landscape is constantly changing, both locally and across the state, which is why Extension offices in each of New York’s 57 counties and the 5 New York City boroughs offer programming, information, and services designed to keeping the clientele that they serve up to date on the latest advances in human and animal health and safety, food safety, environmental quality, integrated pest management, and the utilization of best management practices; as well as techniques for enhancing productivity and profitability through increased marketing skills, risk and benefit assessment, and by transforming raw agricultural commodities into value-added products.
The CCE system encourages agricultural entrepreneurship by providing educational programs in business planning and it offers direction to those looking for start-up assistance, access to capital, and networking options. Cornell researchers are faced with the challenge of developing systems that allow growers at all levels to produce and sell nutritious food products at competitive prices. And outreach educators are constantly looking for ways to enhance public understanding of agriculture and food production systems, while strengthening public and official support for the farming community.
In northeastern New York, direct marketing has become an important strategy in connecting producers with local communities, as well as with regional, state, national, and international markets. The number of farmers’ markets in the region has increased noticeably in recent years. And Extension promotion campaigns and initiatives like Adirondack Harvest (www.adirondackharvest.com) have created international recognition of regional agricultural products while empowering our farmers with greater bargaining muscle.
CCE educators realize that there is tremendous potential in wholesale markets, too. They recognize that the goal of improved agricultural economic and community development is best served when all stakeholders in the food system; producers, processors, retailers, restaurant owners, chefs, food service businesses, schools, institutions, and consumers; join forces.
A food system includes the growing, harvesting, processing, packaging, transporting, marketing, consuming, and disposal of food. It can be local, regional, or global. A successful food system is one that enhances economic, social, and nutritional health, while addressing issues such as food safety and security. CCE educators believe this is best accomplished within a local or regional community and that a successful community food system will hold economic, environmental, and social sustainability among its priorities.
CCE is a proven leader in providing assistance to agricultural producers and processors, rural business owners, local government officials, and individual citizens interested in becoming a part of, the agricultural community. You can contact your local CCE office to learn more about agriculture and food systems in your community and across New York State. And while you’re at it, be sure to ask about upcoming Extension programs, workshops, classes, and activities.
Let Cornell Cooperative Extension put their experience and research knowledge to work for you.
Photo at top: Cornell Cooperative Extension supports our local agriculture industry with educational programs and technical services for farmers and rural landowners with commercial and part-time agricultural business enterprises. CCE offers resources and programs related to dairy farming, livestock management, agronomy, agricultural economic development, natural resources, horticulture, maple production, and much more. Photo credit: Jason Koski; Cornell University
Thank you, CCE, for all your help with our Farm Enterprise, in particular, that of Saint Lawrence County.