Oneida County Outlines Agricultural Initiatives

Multi-faceted approach includes $100,000 ‘farmer to consumer’ funding and ongoing implementation of Farmland Protection Plan

Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr., Oneida County Legislator Keith Schiebel and representatives from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County and the Oneida County Farmland Protection Board outlined several agricultural initiatives today.

Among the several items discussed at the Regner Family Farm in Verona were: $100,000 in funding to conduct and implement a farmer to consumer feasibility study; the on-going execution of the county’s Farmland Protection Plan, the institution of the Oneida County Ag-Friendly Initiative and the creation of an Ag-Incubator in conjunction with Mohawk Valley Community College.

“Oneida County has 1,066 farms covering 26.5 percent of our total acreage and we see $133 million in total farm sales per year,” Picente said. “Agriculture is a key economic driver in our region and we have made it a priority to look for ways to bolster it along with our partners at Cornell Cooperative Extension. Together, we have completed an ambitious farmland protection plan that is being put into action, and we will be embarking on our Agriculture-Friendly Oneida County Initiative that will serve as a guide to assist municipalities and businesses in navigating zoning, regulations, planning and laws that will allow ag-business to expand. And the securing of $100,000 in funding for a farmer to consumer study will allow us to lay the framework for a virtual food network for all those in the food supply chain.”

The $100,000 in funding for the farmer to consumer study is comprised of a $75,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant and $25,000 from the Community Foundation of Oneida and Herkimer Counties.

It will allow Cornell Cooperative Extension to commission a feasibility study to help identify resources and specific data-based strategies for food distribution related to the development of a virtual food network to support a comprehensive local foods and farmer to consumer initiative.

The study will include the economic assessment of the existing local food producers and systems, data development, an economic impact analysis and the identification of barriers and opportunities within the food system of Oneida County.

Several other ongoing county agricultural initiatives are also moving forward including:

• The 37 distinct action items of the Oneida County Farmland Protection Plan which lay out five goals of supporting ag-business while creating new businesses; connecting local farmers with consumers; bringing new individuals to agriculture through education initiatives; increasing public awareness and protecting important farmland resources.

• Oneida County’s Ag-Friendly Initiative that will ensure that our farms continue to succeed and contribute to our economy and quality of life, through three primary areas of activity:

o Helping existing farms develop new opportunities, especially through the development of agritourism and joint marketing efforts.

o Helping new farm businesses get started.

o Ensuring that policies at all levels of government are supportive of agriculture.

• The creation of an ag-incubator through a partnership with Mohawk Valley Community College that will serve as an innovative catalyst for food-based entrepreneurs.

"Today's announcements and celebration of agriculture initiatives in Oneida County is a testament to the viability and sustainability of our vital industry – agriculture,” said Schiebel, R, District 1."Through our collective commitment to support agriculture, agriculture education, our food industry, and the agriculture initiatives highlighted today, we assure our future and that of Oneida County as true leaders and pioneers in the field of agriculture."

“Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County with the support of the Agriculture Economic Development Program has had a very busy and exciting year with a variety of projects to support our Agriculture Community,” said Mary Beth McEwen, Executive Director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County. “These projects include the completion of the 2017 Farmland Protection Plan, with a grant from the NYS Department of Agriculture & Markets we have hired a Farm to School Marketing Coordinator to help our regions farmers sell locally produced food products to our public schools’ lunch programs and with the support of the Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties, Oneida County Health Department, Oneida County Planning Department, Mohawk Valley Community College ThINCubator and the Mohawk Valley Food Policy Council we will be conducting an extensive study of the total Oneida County Food system.”

“We want to thank Oneida County Executive Picente and the Oneida County Board of Legislators for their outstanding continued support of all our hardworking farmers in Oneida County that produce the great varieties of excellent local quality foods,” said Brymer Humphreys, Chairman of the Oneida County Farmland Protection Board. “We also want to thank the Farmland Protection Plan Advisory Committee, Oneida County Farm Bureau, Oneida County Planning Department and Cornell Cooperative Extension for all their hard work for the past two years to help write and publish the 2017 Farmland Protection Plan. This document will serve has a road map for the next ten years to identify and provide resources to insure our agriculture and food system stays strong and vibrant for our future.”

View the Oneida County Farmland Protection Plan here