Opportunities abound for New York agriculture

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — Saratoga County is a microcosm of New York’s diverse $5 billion agriculture industry, which ranks nationally as a leader for goods such as yogurt, cheese and sour cream (first); apples and maple syrup (second); and milk production (third).

Many more opportunities such as farm-to-school initiatives, urban gardening and enhanced marketing of products ranging from hemp to concord grapes are also on the horizon in 2019.

The state’s 35,000 farms encompass more than seven million acres and are responsible for nearly 200,000 jobs.

“There are a lot of positive trends,” state Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball said. “We need to exploit these opportunities.”

But there are challenges as well, such as bringing state leaders, who make crucial budget decisions, up to speed on high-priority issues confronting farmers today.

Democrats now control the upper house of the Legislature so Sen. Jen Metzger, of Ulster County, has replaced Sen. Patty Ritchie, of St. Lawrence County, as chair of that body’s agriculture committee. In the Assembly, Donna Lupardo of Broome County, succeeds fellow Democrat Bill Magee, of Oneida County, as committee chair.

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