Future of St. Lawrence County agriculture may lie in marketing devices such as wine desserts and hay rides, state report says
Thursday, January 19, 2012 - 2:28 pm

Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Patty Ritchie leading the first meeting of 2012 of the State Senate’s Agriculture Committee. The committee considered four bills, which were approved for further action, and released its annual report for 2011.

The future of agriculture in St. Lawrence County might benefit from focusing on wine desserts and hay rides as marketing devices, according to the state Senate's Agriculture Committee's annual report.

The report suggests that to move agriculture forward, the Senate has:

• restored $3.5 million in budget cuts to research, education and marketing programs, like the Farm Viability Institute, Pro-Dairy, and programs for maple, apple and onion farmers

• cut red tape for maple farmers, including passage of a bill that would exempt growers from laws intended for industrial polluters

• expanded marketing opportunities for farmers by allowing the sale of “wine desserts”

• helped New York farmers take advantage of the growing interest in equine and horse-boarding operations, and

• protected farmers right to farm by helping to identify burdensome restrictions on farm operations imposed by some local governments

The committee also suggests looking at things like promoting farm amusements such as hay and corn mazes, which can help increase farm profits.

At its first meeting of the new year Thursday, the committee, chaired by 48th District Senator Patty Ritchie, considered four bills, including measures that would cut red tape on maple farmers, provide additional tax breaks for livestock farmers, and help farmers obtain funding to control non-point water pollution.

“This year, I want to continue efforts to provide tax relief and cut red tape to let hardworking farmers grow,” Ritchie said. “Gov. Cuomo’s new budget provides the best starting point in many years for accomplishing an agenda that will build on last year’s success, and help create new opportunities for farms and agriculture, which remains our biggest and most important industry.”