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Officials in Lewis County are asking people with a connection to the agricultural industry to complete a survey so they can assess the condition of this sector. Julie Abbass/Watertown Daily Times

Officials in Lewis County need input from people involved with the agricultural industry about the challenges they’re facing so representatives of the government can help them improve conditions.

The county hasn’t updated its Agricultural Enhancement Plan in more than a decade. So authorities are asking all residents and businesses with some connection to agriculture to complete a survey.

“Farmers, non-farmers, prospective farmers, business owners, community members — anyone with insight or ideas about all types of agriculture in Lewis County — are invited to participate in a survey that will help ensure the update to the county’s Agricultural Enhancement Plan, the first in 15 years, considers local agriculture from every angle possible. Farmers have been hit hard since the plan was last updated in 2004, so it is being broadened to include all types of farming, like logging, maple, Christmas trees, vegetables and fruits and bees among others, instead of honing-in predominately on dairy as in previous iterations,” according to a story published Jan. 7 by the Watertown Daily Times.

“Nan Stolzenburg of Community Planning and Environmental Associates, Albany, is working with the county Agricultural Protection Board to draw out experiences and opinions, both positive and negative, about farming practices, perceptions and policies on every level, be it county, state or federal, impacting agriculture. The survey’s first question, asking respondents to choose a category that best describes their relationship to agriculture, for example as being a farmer, a local resident not involved in farming, ag land owners that rent to farmers, an agri-business owner or others, triggers questions tailored to that category. … Once the plan is completed, it will be adopted by the County Board of Legislators and sent to the state Department of Agriculture and Markets to let it know the state of agriculture in the county and what it will ideally look like in the future, giving the plan and the surveys that inform it some influence.”

Casandra Buell, senior planner for Lewis County, said responses to the survey will help authorities create specific goals and an implementation guide. This will be used by the county to seek the appropriate resources for problems cited by individuals who return the survey. The county received $50,000 from the state and kicked in $10,000 to conduct the survey. Postcards have been sent to about 2,700 property owners.

Information shared from as broad a range of people as possible will provide the best picture of how the agricultural industry is faring in Lewis County. It’s vital for people with some link to this field to complete and turn in a survey. All surveys must be submitted by Jan. 24. Visit http://wdt.me/h2ETB6 to complete it, or call 315-376-5422 to have one mailed out.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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