The listening session is one of many “conversations in the field” the house committee is holding ahead of the upcoming farm bill to gather input from farmers, ranchers, and stakeholders, according to a press release.
Schoharie County is focusing on keeping its agricultural businesses going ahead of a transition period, according to Alicia Terry, senior planner in the office of agricultural development.
“One of the concerns, and this is a national concern, is the age of our farmers and understanding that a good portion of farm lands will turn hands in the next twenty years,” Terry said. “It’s almost a watershed moment.”
Terry said she expects some dairy farmers attending Monday to address difficulties in meeting new regulations under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Clean Water Infrastructure Act.
Farmers are no longer allowed to spread manure on frozen or wet ground and must find a way to store it for six months. The new legislation has allocated $50 million in grants for building new storage systems, but individual farms are only eligible for up to $385,000, while the investment in such systems costs farmers at least $750,000, Terry said.
Dairy farmers in the area are also affected by trade negotiations in the U.S. and with countries around the world that leave them with small margins on milk and other products, she said.
“This kind of federal session is rare, and will pull people out of the woodwork to get a number of opinions,” said David Cox, agriculture program leader for Cornell Cooperative Extension Schoharie and Otsego Counties.
Cox said the Cornell University group will be speaking indirectly for farmers in the area about agricultural issues statewide.
Keeping land in farming is another challenge for the future of agriculture, Terry said, and The Schoharie County Farm Bureau has started a workshop series to introduce people to the concept of farm transition planning.
Its next free workshop, called “Land as Your Legacy,” will be conducted by Nationwide Insurance and held at Cornell Cooperative Extension in Cobleskill on Nov. 8 from 12:30 until 2 p.m.
“Our farmers are huge economic drivers for Schoharie County and the region, and we’re trying to do what we can to keep them going,” Terry said.
Erin Jerome, staff writer, may be reached at (607) 441-7221, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @DS_ErinJ .