Picente Introduces Oneida County Dairy Farmer Sustainability Action Plan
Multi-Layered Attack Aims to Alleviate Strain of Industry Crisis
As a result of the Oneida County Dairy Farmers Forum he conducted in the spring, County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. introduced a Dairy Farmer Sustainability Action Plan today that will help combat the crippling industry crisis at a local level.
Picente first made the pledge to help Oneida County dairy farmers during his 2018 State of the County Address in March, and then in May, gathered more than 30 local dairy farmers for a forum at Cornell Cooperative Extension in Oriskany to discuss their concerns.
Based on that productive session, Picente devised an action plan that he introduced on Thursday along with other county officials and CCE representatives who will have a role in its execution.
“Our dairy farmers are struggling badly, and I refuse to sit idly by while this never-ending plight continues to drain them financially, physically and mentally,” Picente said. “After listening to their concerns first-hand, we devised this plan with the goals of easing their burden through long-term planning; economic development and marketing; infrastructure, environment and safety improvements; education and training; and the creation of tax policy and a legislative agenda.”
The Oneida County Dairy Farmer Sustainability Action Plan looks to achieve these goals through several objectives and actions items, including:
• Engaging the dairy and farming community to identify service gaps and barriers in the dairy industry by creating a Dairy & Agriculture Community Forum Series.
• Establishing a committee of dairy farm experts that will provide expertise and aid to farmers and act as an advisory body to the County Executive.
• Developing a micro-loan program to alleviate issues related to frozen credit and an inability to access funding for capital due to the highly-regulated federal market.
• Establishing a comprehensive marketing plan to increase sales, production and job placement in the dairy industry.
• Creating a co-op system that assists in the growth of the local dairy industry.
• Creating an informational letter and action request survey.
• Creating a county-led farmer traffic safety campaign.
• Enhancing farm safety by promoting the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems.
• Innovating and improving recruitment to existing ag-education and developing the programs to meet and exceed national agricultural education standards.
• Identifying funding and resources to expand ag-programming at Mohawk Valley Community College.
• Increasing agricultural placements for internships throughout Oneida County to give students hands-on experience in dairy and all agricultural industries.
• Leveraging existing UAS technology and training at MVCC into the agriculture community.
• Increasing agriculture tax assessment participation.
• Supporting the passage of the Whole Milk Act (H.R. 5640).
• Creating a State and Federal Legislative priorities agenda.
“The County Executive and his team have presented a practical and feasible plan that addresses concerns expressed by farmers and dairy industry experts at the dairy forum that was held in May 2018,” said Mary Beth McEwen, Executive Director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County. “The plan identifies goals and action items that will be implemented by Oneida County, Cornell Cooperative Extension Oneida County and other community partners to help alleviate some of these overarching concerns. County leaders have pledged their support for the agriculture industry in Oneida County. CCE is committed to working with them to ensure that the future of the dairy industry in Oneida County remains promising.”
“We appreciate County Executive Picente drafting and implementing the Oneida County Dairy Farmer Sustainability plan,” said Terri DiNitto, whose family owns DiNitto Farms in Marcy. “The objectives in this plan will help dairy farmers in Oneida County do their jobs a little easier and gives us confidence that our government officials are aware of our current struggle and are trying to help where they can.”