Assemblymembers Get a Taste of Long Island during Agricultural Tour

Event highlights LI’s role in food production in New York

Riverhead, NY – With nearly 600 farms and approximately 31,000 acres of farmland, Long Island boasts one of the largest agricultural regions in New York State. Hosted by Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, Chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee, and Assemblyman Fred Thiele, Chair of the Assembly Local Governments Committee, members of the State Assembly gathered at Cornell University’s Long Island Horticultural Research and Extension Center (LIHREC) on September 27th to learn more about food production and research in the region, as well as hear to about challenges faced by local farmers.

“Our group visited the LIHREC to learn more about the challenges and opportunities facing Long Island farmers,” said Assemblywoman Lupardo. “We heard about development pressures, climate change realities, labor issues, and other concerns impacting their businesses. As Ag Chair, I’m committed to shining a spotlight on one of the most productive and valuable agricultural regions in the state. I’d like to thank Cornell Cooperative Extension, the local Farm Bureau, and the many others who attended and helped put this event together. A special thank you to the farmers who let us sample some of the world class products being made on Long Island.”

Assemblyman Thiele said, “The importance of Long Island agriculture cannot be understated as an integral component of the local and State economies. It is imperative that its related industries remain competitive and sustainable, and we must help farmers in managing their daily operations in an environmentally conscious and economically viable way. I am grateful to Assemblywoman Lupardo, Cornell Cooperative Extension, my colleagues and all else who attended this great event to showcase Long Island’s contributions to the State’s agricultural industry, and to discuss the challenges facing local farmers and producers today.”

Lupardo and Thiele were joined by Assemblymembers Anthony Palumbo, in whose district the LIHREC is located, Taylor Darling, Judy Griffin, as well as staff members from the Offices of Assemblymembers Michael Fitzpatrick and Kimberly Jean-Pierre for a tour of the LIHREC followed by a luncheon featuring food and beverage from Long Island. The day concluded with a roundtable with local farmers and representatives from Cornell. The group discussed soil health, emerging crops, and challenges facing producers in the region such as climate change, soil health, and labor.

“Our friends at Cornell Cooperative Extension save our farmers millions of dollars each year with their research, technology and education regarding sustainable agriculture, disease control and all aspects of farming,” said Assemblyman Palumbo. “It was a pleasure to the tour Riverhead campus with the Chairwoman of our Agriculture Committee Donna Lupardo, who has always been a strong advocate for our farmers and is the perfect choice to Chair that Committee. I look forward to a productive year keeping New York's agricultural industry strong.”

Dr. Chris Watkins, Associate Dean of the Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the Director of the statewide Cornell Cooperative Extension system said “It was a privilege to welcome Assembly Agriculture Committee Chair Donna Lupardo and her colleagues to see the tremendous work that’s occurring at Long Island Horticultural Research and Extension Center. Long Island’s unique soils, sole source aquifer, and climate necessitate a strong partnership approach to helping farmers grow local foods with the best available science. The visit provided a great opportunity for Cornell CALS, Cornell Cooperative Extension and Long Island Farm Bureau to showcase the strong and vibrant farm community on Long Island”.

Long Island is home to a diverse agricultural industry. Suffolk County has the largest number of wineries (69) in the state, and ranks fourth in the state for overall agricultural sales. The region is first in the state in aquaculture and is also number one in sales of bedding and garden plants and the number of tomatoes harvested.