Our state always seems to be on the forefront of something new. Even when our future is shaky and uncertain, there will always be New Yorkers that will seek out new ideas to create and grow jobs in every sector of our economy. I think there is little argument – our greatest thinkers in this state are our small-business owners and our small family farmers.
Agriculture, while rooted in solid longstanding traditions, is no less innovative than any other sector of our state’s economy. Our family farms produce among the highest quality products in the nation. Their products not only fuel our bodies but our regional economies, especially here in Upstate New York.
Over the years, I have had the pleasure of getting to know many of our cutting-edge family farmers, and while some note the pressures of the economic downturn and the overall dwindling of family farms, they are, never-the-less, hopeful for the future and aren’t at all dissuaded about where agriculture belongs in New York’s economy. They know, like I do, that agriculture is the economic backbone of this state, and, like me, they sense a great opportunity in cultivating the land and raising livestock.
Earlier this year, agricultural programs in New York were at great risk and set for another round of cuts similar to those they endured in last year’s budget. It certainly seemed like another attack on our family farmers. Entire programs were completely defunded under the governor’s proposed budget. It seemed like a counterintuitive move, especially since New York’s economy was at risk.
My rural upstate colleagues and I knew that New York’s economic resurgence would need a solid platform from which to grow, and agriculture is exactly the kind of catalyst we need to seek out and positively exploit for real momentum in our recovery. We certainly couldn’t let agriculture take the blow it did a few years ago.
Few things were more important to me during the budget negotiations than investing in the things that would grow our economy. So, with job growth in mind for our kids and grandkids, I fought for programs that support family farms. While reducing spending is crucial, wisely investing in our state’s economic growth is the second part of sound budgeting.
Together, we trimmed the fat where necessary, and I am thankful for my colleagues and the governor, who listened to my petitioning to fully support agriculture in New York. Not only did we restore programs like the New York Farm Viability Institute and Maple Producers Program, we boosted the Cornell Farm Family Assistance and created the Agricultural Economic Development program.
Agriculture once again took a spotlight in Albany. I am pleased that we were able to add an additional $4.3 million boost to farm programs for an overall $21.6 million agricultural investment. This wise spending, I have no doubt, will have a great impact on our state as we move into a more prosperous future.
If you have any ideas about New York’s agriculture or our economy, please share them with me. I can be reached at either my Johnstown office at 518-762-6486 or my Herkimer office 315-866-1632. You also may send your ideas to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.