Molinaro Hosts 3rd Annual Agricultural Forum
at Dutchess County Fairgrounds
Dutchess County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro today hosted the 3rd Annual Agricultural Forum at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds, where he was joined by members of the Agricultural Advisory Committee, which includes local farmers, elected officials, agricultural and land conservancy organizations and others, to discuss issues and policies regarding agriculture and agri-business.
New York Assemblymember Didi Barrett, as well as Dutchess County Legislators Gregg Pulver, Don Sagliano, Will Truitt and Joel Tyner attended the forum. Agriculture in Dutchess County comprises over 170,000 acres (one-third of the total acres), produces nearly $50 million in market value products, and is the county’s third largest employer. Agriculture also plays a large role in the county’s $500+ million tourism industry.
County Executive Molinaro said, “Farming has long been vital to Dutchess County – as part of our history, our development, our success – and it will play an important role in the future success of our economy. The Agricultural Advisory Committee continues to ensure Dutchess County’s farms flourish by advocating local farmers and their needs, and I thank the Committee members for their efforts and devotion to keeping agriculture vital.”
David Haight, New York State Director for the American Farmland Trust, was the keynote speaker and provided a presentation on agricultural economic development, farmland protection plans and advocacy for agriculture in New York.
Director Haight said, “Dutchess County is one of three counties investing in protecting the land that we need for farming and growing food in New York. Dutchess County has been on the forefront of these issues for decades.”
The last 12 months have been one of the most successful periods in the history of Dutchess County’s Partnership for Manageable Growth (PMG), through which the County collaborates with local partners to strategically protect farmlands which are key to keeping agriculture vibrant for future generations. Over that span, Dutchess County has closed on five PMG projects, resulting in the preservation of more than 530 acres of farmland. Since the PMG program was established in 1999, more than 3,300 acres of farmland on 19 farms have been preserved.
An update on the state of agriculture in Dutchess County was given by Jen Fimbel, the County’s Agricultural Navigator, and Eoin Wrafter, Commissioner of the Department of Planning and Development.
Agricultural Advisory Committee Chair Matt Sabellico gave an update on the Committee, which reports to and advises the County Executive on issues and policies regarding agriculture and agri-business.
County Executive Molinaro moderated a roundtable discussion, during which he facilitated a question-and-answer period between those in attendance and members of the Agricultural Advisory Committee.
County Legislator Gregg Pulver, a multi-generational farmer in the Town of Pine Plains, said, “Agriculture remains an active and integral part of life in Dutchess County, enhancing the character of our towns and villages, improving the health of our residents and contributing to our overall economy. I thank the members of the Agricultural Advisory Committee for their commitment and their dedication to local farmers and our communities.”
A new round of applications for future PMG projects will be released in September, and County Executive Molinaro will request authorization for an additional $1 million for the program from the Dutchess County Legislature.