FRANKLYWNOW - Governor Proposes Initiative to Boost Southern Tier Agriculture

Governor Proposes Initiative to Boost Southern Tier Agriculture Industry

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By Beth Rousseau.
Plans were recently unveiled for the Governor's proposed Southern Tier Agricultural Economic Development Initiative.

"Our Southern Tier farms have been struggling for many, many years," says New York Farm Bureau Area Field Supervisor Lindsay Wickham.

That could soon change thanks to $30 million set aside in the Governor's 2015 budget to grow the region's agriculture industry.

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball says, "We have this wonderful marketplace all along the East Coast, biggest market place in the country. I think we have to connect the dots better and I think the Southern Tier is a good place to jump start that."

$25 million would be spent increasing production on farms.

Local farmers will propose projects that could be awarded up to $100,000 to cover a maximum of 75 percent of the project.

According to Wickham, "This money will just help with their infrastructure help with their potential for marketing, with their potential for processing and just form a much stronger agriculture economy here in the Southern Tier."

The other $5 million will be used to create jobs, promote agribusiness and upgrade infrastructure. This would include farmers' market expansions.

Wickham says, "With a good year last year and with this additional money hopefully we can see a lot of improvement with just the base infrastructure on each farm ."

According to Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo's office, Broome County farms account for $150 million in economic activity annually.

Statewide, agriculture is a $5 billion industry.

Ball says,"The whole economy will benefit as New York does business with New York."

Wickham says, "We will be here forever. Agriculture has been here forever. There's no question in my mind that this is not only good for the Southern Tier but it's good for the whole economy...agriculture and otherwise."

This initiative must be approved as part of this year's budget which is due April 1st.
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