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Guest Column: State Sen. Tom O'Mara

"Harvesting a NY-grown future"

ALBANY, Sept. 16 -- Now that we’re about to turn the pages of our calendars to autumn, we might as well go ahead and use the start of a new season to also turn attention to one of New York government’s constant responsibilities: maintaining agriculture as a foundation of this state’s culture and economy.

I’ve said it many, many times, but it’s a refrain we should never get tired of hearing. This state -- and our very own Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions -- will only be as strong in the future as our farmers and the dynamic industry they sustain. We can deservedly take great pride in a nationally renowned lineup of agricultural products. But we cannot take it for granted that it will always be so.

We have to keep taking steps to keep our farmers competitive for the next generation.

One step we all can take is to get out and about this fall when the local farmers’ markets are overflowing with high quality, New York-grown offerings. The state Department of Agriculture and Markets offers a convenient, online interactive map to help locate one near you.

It can be found at

We know the current apple crop is robust, for example. According to the New York Apple Association [, a website that includes a comprehensive list of area orchards and other apple-related retailers], this year’s crop promises to be one of the best in a while, potentially surpassing the annual average production of 29 million bushels. Of course it's always an active time of year across Finger Lakes wine country, with the grape harvest underway and celebrated with numerous festivals and other events (stay updated on

So agriculture-related opportunities abound across the region during September and October. But it takes even more than consumer awareness.

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration has cut its teeth, so to speak, on pursuing a strong agricultural agenda. Remember that in his first run for governor in 2010, he promised that a comprehensive “Farm New York” agenda would be a priority, and it has been – producing achievements from creating new markets to recognizing emerging technologies to addressing tax
and regulatory burdens. It’s been a good start.

Not long ago the governor toured the Finger Lakes region to help tout our world-class grape and wine industry, the second-largest in America and one of New York’s greatest of all success stories. He’s provided valuable leadership to promote the amazing growth of the Greek Yogurt industry,
which has had a tremendously positive impact on our fourth-largest-in-the-nation dairy industry. He’s also initiated additional, critical steps to boost burgeoning craft beer and distilling industries, which promise to have even more industry-wide impacts. Our farmers make New York the second-largest producer of apples, cabbage and maple syrup; third in cauliflower, grapes and corn for silage; fourth in pears, snap beans and squash; fifth in tomatoes, onions and tart cherries; and sixth in pumpkins and Christmas trees.

In short, it’s an industry that earns and deserves its accolades. Just consider all that’s at stake. New York’s farmers are the source of the freshest food for New York’s consumers at a time of ever-increasing demand for locally grown products regionally, statewide and nationally. Farmers are the first stewards of the land. They provide thousands of livelihoods and anchor so many communities in so many ways.

But it’s an industry that’s constantly challenged from so many different competitive corners. So the Legislature has to stay on board to keep it strong. The Legislature’s joint, bipartisan Commission on Rural Resources continues to be a leading voice for rural New York in a government so dominated by downstate, urban-oriented interests. Earlier this year, I joined many of my Senate colleagues in co-sponsoring a comprehensive agriculture development strategy called “Grown in New York.” One important piece of our Grown in New York agenda made it through this year’s legislative process and is expected to be signed into law by the governor to deliver long-awaited property tax relief for state farmers by placing a 2% cap on annual agricultural land assessment increases. It’s about time we took this action. We’re hopeful it will make a difference for the future of family farmers to help them grow, prosper and stay competitive.

So I look forward in 2014 to renewing the call for the rest of our Grown in New York plan, which covers a lot of ground. I’ll take this opportunity to invite you to take a closer look. Just visit my Senate website,, and click on the Grown in New York icon in the left-hand column of the home page.

Grown in New York starts from a single fact: the success of New York’s $5.2-billion agriculture sector begins and ends with the success of New York’s 36,000 farm families.

But these farm families and the industry they drive will only flourish with a steadily applied legislative commitment to not risk taxing, regulating and pricing our farmers out of business.

Photo in text: State Senator Tom O'Mara

Schuyler County Officials

Legislature Members:

Top row (from left): Dennis Fagan, Thomas Gifford, Doris Karius, Glenn Larison

Bottom row: Michael A. Yuhasz, Barbara Halpin, Phil Barnes, Stewart Field


Legislature Chairman

Dennis Fagan, Tyrone 607-292-3687

Legislature Members:

Michael A. Yuhasz, 535-4967

Doris L. Karius, 546-5544

Barbara Halpin, 594-3683

Glenn R. Larison, 594-3385

Thomas M. Gifford, 535-9517

Phil Barnes, Watkins Glen 481-0482

Stewart Field, Watkins Glen 535-2335

County Clerk: Linda Compton, 535-8133

Sheriff: William Yessman, 535-8222

Undersheriff: Breck Spaulding, 535-8222

County Treasurer: Margaret Starbuck, 535-8181

District Attorney: Joseph Fazzary, 535-8383


State, Federal Officials for Schuyler County

Sen. Charles E. Schumer

United States Senate
313 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-3201
DC Phone: 202-224-6542
DC Fax: 202-228-3027
Email Address:

Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand

United States Senate
478 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
DC Phone: 202-224-4451

State Senator Tom O'Mara -- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca (Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)

Room 812, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
Phone: (518) 455-2091
Fax: (518) 426-6976

Assemblyman Christopher Friend -- Chemung, Schuyler, Tioga
Room 720, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
Phone: (518) 455-4538


© The Odessa File 2011
Charles Haeffner
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869