Task force tasked with saving farming

The state may finally have a budget, but that doesn't mean everyone is happy. Farmers and others who work directly with the farming industry are disappointed with the hit their industry took, so the Blue Ribbon Task Force on the Future of Farming in New York State will try to fix what some say the governor and Legislature have broken.

Too many New York farms have fallen victim to federal and state policies that make it harder and harder to eek out a living working the soil and tending livestock, and its time that local leaders stand up to defend an important part of our economic heritage, said Thomas J. Santulli, president of the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) and creator of the task force. Santulli created the Blue Ribbon Task Force on the Future of Farming as a way to preserve the state's historically strong agricultural industry.

Nearly 30 leaders from counties across the state make up the task force, which recently met at the Empire Farm Days in Seneca Falls to discuss recommendations that will be submitted at the NYSAC Fall Seminar in Buffalo in September. Alan Grattidge, supervisor of Charlton, is the only member of the task force representing Saratoga County.

"I look at farming as economic development for our area. People are concerend with our food sources, so we nee dto have a strong farming community to be able to provide the food source for our population," said Grattidge. "The one thing that people will tell us is, they think what makes Saratoga County so special is all the farms we have here in the county, so it's very important to support the community when it's struggling as it has been in the past couple years."

The Town of Charlton is undeniably a farming town, ruled by dairy, cattle, hay, equine and field agriculture and supplemented by specialty farms like alpacas, maple syrup and Christmas trees. The region has six active dairy farms, accounting for nearly half the agricultural land in the town, said Grattidge. In an effort to protect and preserve the town's farmland, it passed a Farmland Protection Plan in February 2010, which identifies ways to help farms survive.

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