Saturday, 29 September 2018 12:01

OP ED: New York Remains Agricultural Leader

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OP ED: New York Remains Agricultural Leader Supplied photo

Too often it goes unrecognized, but New York state is a leader in agriculture.

The farmers in our state grow and produce a diverse range of commodities and Upstate's nutrient-rich soils give way to some of the best products in the nation. Year after year, New York farms produce award-winning dairy products, wines, and apples that we can be proud to call homegrown.

Last week, the State Comptroller highlighted the state's agriculture industry in a report based on data kept by the National Agriculture Statistics Services (NASS). The report indicates that dairy continues to be our largest agricultural industry. New York ranks 3rd in the nation in milk production. In addition, last year New York produced the most cottage cheese, sour cream, and yogurt in the nation. While low milk prices have created economic challenges for dairy farmers, high production of dairy-related products illustrates how farmers continue to use value-added dairy products to offset low milk prices.

Right behind diary is New York apple production. New York ranks second in the nation in terms of the amount of apples produced — second only to Washington State. New York has roughly 40,000 acres of apple orchards, many of which are found in Central New York. There are hundreds of varieties of apples grown in New York but only 25 varieties are reported by the New York State Apple Association to the NASS. Those 25 varieties yielded 1.3 billion pounds of apples. This equals more than more than 11% of the country's share of apple production.

The wine and grape industry continues to produce high yields. New York vineyards produced 187,000 tons of grapes ranking grape production behind only California and Washington. Roughly 57,000 tons of those grapes were wine grapes while the rest were juice grapes. In terms of wine grape production, we ranked 3rd in the nation. New York is the 2nd highest producer of Concord grapes which are used for juice. From 2012 to 2017, New York doubled its Concord grape production.

Maple syrup production ranked 2nd in the nation and in 2017 produced nearly 18% of the nation's maple syrup--second only to Vermont. That ranking is up from 2016 when New York's maple syrup production was third in the country. Our maple producers have worked hard in recent years to capitalize on agri-tourism opportunities and value-added products. It is great to see the efforts are paying off.

In addition to farmers’ markets that run in the summer months, people can find most of the products listed here year-round at the Central New York Regional Market in Syracuse. Thankfully, the state has made an effort to encourage consumers to support our local farmers and agricultural businesses. One program that helps promote buying local is the Taste of NY program. To find vendors and locally-sourced food, visit https://taste.ny.gov/. The state also maintains a directory of farmers markets, wineries and agri-tourism destinations at https://farmsandfood.agriculture.ny.gov/farmsandfood/consumer/viewHome.do. There is information on this page that instructs farm businesses on how to be listed in the directory. If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office. My office can be reached by mail at 200 North Second Street, Fulton, New York 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185.

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