LOWVILLE — Representatives from various farms around the county, agriculture-related companies and agencies will pool their knowledge to help protect the farming industry by taking action on a county level.
The 16-member Agriculture Sustainability Council was created by the Lewis County Board of Legislators by unaniumous vote at its monthly meeting on June 4.
On the current context for the state of the industry in the county, the resolution says, “Milk represents approximately 75% of Lewis County’s agricultural commodity sales, however, the number of dairy farms is rapidly decreasing,” and that, “The average cost of production has been well above net milk prices for nearly five years in a row.”
The new Council will work to find innovative ways to support struggling farmers, keep the financial impact on public resources to a minimum and develop an action plan in part focused on “removing local barriers to farmers’ success” while at the same time promoting a pro-active legislative agenda on the state and federal levels.
Lewis County Cornell Cooperative Extension Executive Director Michele Ledoux said, “This council will bring together a group of people trying to look at the big picture of agriculture while focusing on what we can do to make sure agriculture continues to have a place in Lewis County.”
At the end of April, the Extension held a meeting with many of those appointed to the new council to talk about the current state of farming in Lewis County, a meeting that became a contributing factor in the formation of the Council.
“The Farm Bureau deals with policy and advocating for farmers in Albany and the Extension is focused on education,” Mrs. Ledoux said, “But this group will be talking about initiatives that can be taken locally.”
People appointed to the council all have knowledge, background and interest in the reality of farming in the county and are willing to volunteer to try to take action, Mrs. Ledoux said.
Nominated to the council were Glenn Beller, Beller Farms; Jerome Demko, Demko Farms; Mary Rumble, Hopenhagen Farm; James Munn, Black River Valley Natural; Sam Filson, White’s Farm Supply; Ron Porter, Cazenovia Equipment; Michael Watson, Goldstar Feed; Kate Eves, Farm Credit East; Michael Kraeger, Oneida-Lewis Dairy Cooperative; Brien Tabolt, Lowville Producers Dairy Cooperative; Leo Tabolt, Lowville Farmers’ Co-op; Peter Ostrum DVM, Countryside Veterinary Clinic; Joseph Lawrence, state PRO-Dairy and county IDA Board; Joe Schultz, county Farm Bureau; and Michele Ledoux and Robin Wendell-Zabielowicz, Cornell Cooperative Extension.
The first meeting of the Council has not been set, but is anticipated to happen before the end of the month.