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Agriculture and Food Systems

Agriculture is key to the success of rural communities. It contributes significantly to the quality of life and state identity for Rural New York. The project recommends improving the competitiveness and sustainability of food and agricultural systems by educating consumers, officials, and farmers about relevant issues, and by improving regulation, planning, research and development of food and agricultural systems. Additionally, the project recommends increasing agricultural profitability and community wellness by improving the connection between agriculture and food and communities.

Graduate student cultivating soybeans
Public Policy

Agriculture-minded New Yorkers are concerned about public policy. They believe that farms contribute substantial, tangible benefits to communities. In return, farms would like some opportunities, including more favorable tax treatment and increased access to economic development resources, such as applied research and grant programs.

Goals for Successful Agriculture
  • Farmland protection and purchase of development rights (PDR)
  • Alternative energy production
  • Research successful models from other states
  • Loyalty to local foods, for example through distribution and promotion in schools, institutions, and groceries
  • Consistent labeling/branding/marketing for NY products
  • Cooperative efforts on various levels including farmer-to-farmer, farmer-to-community, and regional
  • Regional agritourism and the development of direct and niche markets
  • Issues of scale, cost-effectiveness, and efficiency
  • Support for small farms, start-up farms, intergenerational farm-transfer, youth agricultural programs
  • Sustainable environmental management
The NY Rural Vision Program identified several programs as especially worthy of support:
Challenges To Agricultural Goals

Young people choosing non-farming careers is a major challenge to the future of agriculture in NYS. Policy and community leaders must overcome the negative perception of agriculture, promote awareness of local agricultural careers, support opportunities for youth who want to farm, and encourage the overall appreciation of agriculture to change this trend.

Other challenges to the future of agriculture in New York State include:

  • Zoning, competing land uses, and increasing land prices
  • Farm labor shortages including lack of qualified and stable labor, entry-level labor
  • High cost of doing business, especially in terms of health care/insurance, and tax structure
  • Aging farm population, with corresponding lack of opportunities for youth
  • Lack of infrastructure to support local manufacturing facilities, value-added and small scale processing such as found in local slaughterhouses, dairy plants, etc.
  • Conflict between agricultural and residential uses, rural and urban populations