Budget Provides Funding for Cornell Cooperative Extension

Assemblymember Harry B. Bronson (D-Rochester/Chili/Riga/Rush/Wheatland) announced that the 2012-13 state budget includes $300,000 in funding for the Cornell Cooperative Extension pilot program. The funds will be leveraged against investments from county governments to help expand the capabilities of the five Regional Agricultural Teams serving Western New York, added Assemblymember Bronson.

“Over the past decades, it has become more challenging to operate a successful farm business in our area,” Assemblymember Bronson said. “In response, farmers have been seeking highly specialized, research-based solutions like the ones Cornell Cooperative Extension provides. These new funds will help the Cornell Extension Agriculture Teams provide assistance to farmers.”

Assemblymember Bronson noted the Regional Agricultural Teams have created a number of valuable tools for Western New York farmers in recent years. The Finger Lakes Grape Team designed a web-based service for listing and marketing grapes that adds $1 million annually to the state’s wine industry. A second team introduced new high tunnel technology that helps growers adopt sustainable pest management practices and extends the viable growing season for produce by 6-8 weeks – significantly increasing the income potential for the regions apple farms.

“We’ve already seen in recent years the immense impact this type of research can have on our farming industry,” Assemblymember Bronson said. “The state’s commitment to the Cornell Extension program will hopefully spur additional advances, helping the farm businesses of Western New York better position themselves in the ever-changing market.”

Assemblymember Bronson hosted a roundtable in February with Cornell Cooperative Extension to discuss the issues they address in the farm industry. After the meeting, Assemblymember Bronson sent a letter to Assembly leadership requesting funding for the pilot program to be included in the budget.

“I’ve long fought for this vital funding to be included in the budget to help our farmers,” Assemblymember Bronson said. “Together with the money leveraged from county governments, the program will see a substantial boost in funding – producing real results for our struggling farmers.”