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Sullivan County Agricultural Summit

By Fritz Mayer
November 30, 2011

Cindy Geiger, fresh from an election victory and who will be joining the Sullivan County Legislature in January, noted that she and four other newly elected lawmakers are bringing fresh energy to the county.

Geiger, who operates a “solar-powered dairy farm” in Jeffersonville, said that there have been successes in the agricultural sector in recent years, such as securing funding for a local red meat facility and a creamery, but the county has to do more. She said, “First order of business: to reshape the Sullivan County agencies and policies to ensure that the needs of the agricultural community are met.”

She was speaking at the first countywide Sullivan County Agricultural Summit held at Villa Roma Resort in the Beechwoods on November 28.

There were booths, breakout sessions and lots of speakers at the daylong event, which was designed to further boost the agricultural sector.

Matt Morgan, a representative from the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets, said that he has worked with eight governors in his career, and that the current one, Governor Andrew Cuomo, is committed to growing agriculture, which is still the largest industry in the state.

Morgan said that small-farm operations that are tapping into the buy local movement are succeeding and his agency is prepared to help new farmers get established.

Bob Franklin, who owns a farm and creamery in Bethel, said the key to survival for farmers is to adapt as the market changes. For instance, he said, “People want to know where food is coming from. They like to see cows graze; people looking at cows that are locked up say, ‘I don’t want to drink that milk.’”

The breakout sessions of the day covered topics such as finding funding and financing, business planning for farmers and building local support for farmers.