May 15, 2009
Contact: NNYADP Co-Chairs Jon Greenwood, 315-386-3231; Joe Giroux, 518-565-4730 (wk)

Funding for North Country Agriculture Recognizes Value to Farmers, Region, State

The farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program (NNYADP) has received an award of $300,000 from the New York State Legislature for research designed to reduce costs, maximize profits, develop new products for North Country farm businesses and enhance the agricultural stewardship of the region’s vital natural resources.

New York State Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Darrel J. Aubertine and New York State Assembly Agriculture Chairman Bill Magee worked with their respective committees to restore the funding for the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program (NNYADP) in the 2009 budget.

“Agriculture is a driving force in the economy of Northern New York and this is a vital program for our agricultural industries,” Senator Aubertine says. “The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program has been an asset and a resource to farmers with scientific research and development to help them protect their livestock and crops, and increase profits. It was a priority in the budget process to restore this $300,000 for the program because of its positive impact for our farm communities.”

Assemblyman Magee says, “I was very pleased the legislature was able to restore this successful program which assists Northern New York agriculture, as well as other agricultural programs throughout the state in the 2009-2010 State Budget. With farmers struggling to deal with constant increasing production costs, any one of these agricultural programs in the state could simply not afford to be cut in the budget. Sacrifices were made in order to fill the increasing state deficit; however, it would have been unwise to cut agricultural programs. We must ensure that agriculture remains strong in New York state.”

With the State funds, the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program (NNYADP) will continue to drive regional research, education and technical assistance on behalf of the region’s 4,268 farms (2007 Census of Agriculture) in Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.

NNYADP Co-Chair Jon Greenwood, a dairyman in St. Lawrence County, says, “The farmers of the North Country thank Senator Aubertine and Assemblyman Magee and their committees for recognizing the importance of North Country agriculture to the regional and state economies and for supporting the critical region-specific projects of the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program.”

NNYADP Co-Chair Joe Giroux, a dairyman in Clinton County, says, “It is heartening to have our state legislators continue to support the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program which represents a huge return-on-investment for the State of New York via increased sales by the region’s agricultural producers who have gained efficiencies, reduced costs, and enhanced product development and marketing.”

Recent projects funded by the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program-funded have:
• helped farmers reduce the use of costly nitrogen fertilizer without sacrificing corn crop quality, saving some farmers more than $70/acre while protecting the region’s water resources

• taught maple syrup makers how to improve their sugar maple forest management and syrup production techniques. Michael L. Farrell, director of the Cornell University Uihlein Maple Forest in Lake Placid estimates the growth potential of the Northern New York maple industry to be more than $9 million annually

• responded to increasing consumer interest in buying local foods with the North Country Regional Foods Initiative enhancing the growth and operation of nearly 50 farmers’ markets and another 50 CSAs (community-supported agriculture that provide consumers locally-grown foods by farm subscription) across the region

• helped North Country dairy farmers reduce Klebsiella mastitis in cows

• developed biological controls to prevent crop damage by Alfalfa Snout Beetle

• increased dairy farm income by identifying ways that farmers can improve milk quality, and

• prompted development of grass-based agricultural opportunities, including those associated with bioenergy crops and grass-fed meat animal production.

The economic impact of the NNYADP’s on-farm cold hardy grape research is manifesting itself with new wine-making enterprises and farm-based winery tourism along the Thousand Islands Seaway Wine Trail and in the Lake Champlain region of Northern New York.

According to the 2007 Census of Agriculture, the value of Northern New York agricultural product sales is more than $595 million. Milk, maple, cheese, small fruits, vegetables, meats and other products are produced on more than 1.1 million acres in the region. Since 2002, the number of NNY fruit and vegetable farms has increased nearly 60 percent and the number of farms with orchards has increased nearly 55 percent.

A committee of farmers representing the diverse of farming interests in the region guides the small grants program of the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program.

The Program partners with Cornell University, Cornell Cooperative Extension, the New York Farm Viability Institute, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, and others to fund and conduct research, education and technical assistance under the general headings of agricultural economic development; agricultural environmental stewardship; dairy, livestock, field crop, and maple production; horticultural crops; agricultural product marketing and local foods initiatives; biofuels; and grass-based and organic agriculture.

In addition to funding on-farm research, the NNYADP supports projects at the North Country’s agricultural research farms: Cornell Cooperative Extension of St. Lawrence County Learning Farm and Education Center, Canton; Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station at E.V. Baker Agricultural Research Farm, Willsboro; W.H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute, Chazy; and, at Lake Placid, Uihlein Maple Forest and Uihlein Potato Research Station.

For more information on the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program, go online to www.nnyagdev.org or contact Co-Chairs Jon Greenwood at 315-386-3231 and Joe Giroux, 518-563-7523, or Program Coordinator R. David Smith at Cornell University, 607-255-7286. # #