Norris: Agriculture is The Backbone of Our Economy

A Column from Assemblyman Mike Norris (R,I-Lockport)
August 1, 2017

As we are enjoying our county fairs and the bountiful harvest of fruits and vegetables, we need to take a moment to thank our local farmers and remember proudly that agricultural is still the number one industry within our great state.

An abundant pride of New York State is the nearly 36,000 family-run and small farms that produce some of the finest foods and products in the nation, ranking in the top ten nationally in the production of 30 different agricultural commodities such as apples, cabbage and snap beans, grapes and wine, and dairy. With 7 million acres of farmland in our state there is never a better time than now to visit a local farm stand, pick-your-own farm, or farmers market to enjoy the bounty produced in our state.

While there is nothing better for our local economy than to support local food producers, I am proud that this session my colleagues in state government and I were able to deliver on some measures that will ensure the tradition of farming in our state. We created the Young Farmer Advisory Board to help new farmers get more established A.6042 and created paths for young farmers to access agricultural lands A.5060. We also created incentives to help support the growing industries of local vineyards, wineries, craft breweries and beverage makers.

Working together with the New York Farm Bureau, the National Young Farmers Coalition and many other agricultural organizations as well as groups that are working to combat hunger in our state, such as the Hunger Action Network of New York State, we passed the Farm to Food Bank initiative. This program allows farms that donate to food banks to receive tax benefits and also helps protect against excess crops from going to waste while ensuring less New Yorkers go hungry. This was an important bipartisan effort and I am very proud it has become a reality.

We are so fortunate to live in a part of the state where agriculture is front and center, and as harvest season gets into full swing, I encourage everyone to get out there to experience the plethora of fresh foods and food products grown and produced in our region. In addition to finding locally-grown or produced foods at farms and farmers markets in our community, you can also find many New York State products at stores by visiting www.taste.ny.gov to locate your favorite wine, cheese, condiment, and produce.

As I continue working on your behalf, I welcome your feedback and suggestions and hope you will continue to engage with me either on social media, by subscribing to my e-newsletter or by contacting me or my staff. You can reach us or sign up for my e-newsletter by emailing me at norrism@nyassembly.gov or for more assistance please call my district office at (716) 839-4691.