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Task force tasked with saving farming

Among the ways to do this, as identified by the plan, are get the information out to make landowners aware of their options; develop the marketing strategy; install right-to-farm law signs which demonstrate the town's commitment to farming; explore ways to locally fund farmland protection projects; and updating and modifying various town plans and codes.

Grattidge said this farmland protection plan is a demonstrated effort by the town to recognize the importance of the agriculture industry in the region and county, but said state leaders don't seem to realize this value, as demonstrated by their "sweeping away" of funds.

"This past year's budget was devastating to a number of farming communities and the state legislature, under the leadership of the governor and downstate leaders, basically swept away a lot of the funding for programs that were already in place," said Grattidge, who referred a program called the New York State Farm Viability Institute that was budgeted more than $3 million in 2008. "This money would fund a lot of projects to help with profitability of farms. One of their programs was the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Saratoga County, but that money was stripped away and we basically had to close that program in March because we had no more funding for it."

He said this deprivation of funds goes against one of Saratoga County's biggest businesses, horses.

"That program was started to help people in the equine business develop business plans and encourage the equine industry, which is so huge in this county," said Grattidge. "So many people were directly impacted by the recently passed budget."

Grattidge said his participation on the Blue Ribbon Task Force is incredibly important to lend a voice for Saratoga County to the leaders down in Albany.

"One of the advantages of being on this committee is our voice is heard by a lot of legislators, and that's pretty powerful for getting good policies passed," said Grattidge.

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