Economic Impacts Will Be Focus of Tompkins Agriculture Summit

Posted by  //  January 28, 2012  //  Farming & Agriculture, News

Hooker and Gotwalls are featured speakers

Local farmers will share their success stories as part of the Tompkins County Agriculture Summit planned for Friday, February 24 from 9am to 4pm at the Dryden V.F.W.    Featured speakers will be Patrick Hooker, former NYS Agriculture Commissioner, and Phil Gotwalls, a noted agriculture and community development consultant.   The Summit is presented by the Tompkins County Agriculture & Farmland Protection Board and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County as a way to showcase the diversity and productivity of Tompkins County Farms for local officals and the general public.

Agriculture is an important economic driver in Tompkins County, generating an estimated $60 million in sales each year, according to the USDA’s Census of Agriculture and other local sources.  Direct sales to local consumers account for an additional $20 million dollars annually, estimates Monika Roth, Agriculture Program Leader at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County.

Farms currently  occupy approximately 110,000 acres, or over a third of Tompkins County’s land base.  In contrast to some negative reports about agriculture in other areas, local farmers are expanding and diversifying their operations, Roth reports. “There are two main forms of agricultural activity in our county.  One is focused on dairy and crops, the other on local foods.  Having both be viable and growing in our county helps preserve our farmland, generates jobs, and gives local consumers access to a variety of locally produced foods,” Roth concludes.

Increased public interest in farming and local foods is the impetus for the Agriculture Summit, Roth says.   The keynote speaker will be Patrick Hooker, former NYS Agriculture Commissioner, who is now senior manager of agribusiness development at the Empire State Development Corporation. Hooker will discuss agriculture development initiatives and opportunities for New York State farmers.  Phil Gottwals, an agriculture and community development consultant, will be the Summit’s capstone speaker.  Gottwals has a long history of involvement in agricultural economic development project in the Northeast; his appearance at the Summit is sponsored by The American Farmland Trust, NY Chapter.

Registration for the Summit is $10 per person and includes lunch.  For more information, contact Debbie Teeter at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County,  607-272-2292 or email dlt22@cornell.edu.

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