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Dutchess County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro and Dutchess County Legislature Chairman Gregg Pulver today hosted the 4th Annual Agricultural Forum at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck. They were joined by members of the Agricultural Advisory Committee, which includes local farmers, elected officials, agricultural and land conservancy organizations and others, to discuss issues and policies regarding agriculture and agri-business.
Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, members of the Dutchess County Agricultural Advisory Committee and other local representatives and elected officials attended today’s fourth annual agricultural forum at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck.
United States Congressman John Faso, New York State Senator Sue Serino, County Legislators Deidre Houston, Nick Page, Don Sagliano, and Joel Tyner, as well as representative from NYS Assemblymember Didi Barrett’s office joined more than 50 local farmers, elected officials and representatives from various agricultural and land conservancy organizations at today’s forum.
Agriculture comprises more than 127,000 acres in Dutchess County (one-quarter of the County’s total acres), accounts for nearly $50 million in market value products and is the County’s third-largest employer. Agriculture is also a key component in Dutchess County’s tourism industry, which last year brought more than $600 million into the local economy.
County Executive Molinaro said, “Agriculture’s roots in our community date back to Dutchess County’s founding, and farming continues to play an integral part in our current development and future success. Few toil harder than farmers, and that work ethic remains engrained in those who make Dutchess County agriculture flourish. Our Agricultural Advisory Committee remains steadfast in its advocacy for local farmers and their needs, and we appreciate the Committee members for their resolve to keep farming vibrant in Dutchess County.”
In addition to a discussion about the state of agriculture in Dutchess County, members and attendees also reviewed the implementation of the Dutchess County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan, an update on the Partnership for Manageable Growth (PMG), and a presentation by members of the Harlem Valley Farm & Food Alliance.
Chairman Pulver, a multi-generational farmer in the Town of Pine Plains, said, “Farming is dynamic and vital in Dutchess County, where agriculture touches every resident – providing food and job opportunities, enhancing the quality of life while improving personal health, boosting our local economy and adding to the charm that makes us distinctly Dutchess. The members of the Agricultural Advisory Committee work tirelessly on behalf of Dutchess County farmers, and we thank them for their efforts to ensure agriculture remains an integral part of our community.”
This past June, Dutchess County announced awards to preserve more than 550 acres of farmland through the PMG program, by which the County collaborates with local partners to strategically protect farmlands which are key to keeping agriculture vibrant for future generations. Created in 1999, the PMG program helps protect important agricultural and open space resources. The program provides a locally funded match for land preservation purchases up to 50 percent of the total project cost. Since its inception, the program has helped to protect almost 4,000 acres of farmland and open space in Dutchess County.
A new round of applications for future PMG projects will be released in September. Information about the program, including a map of completed PMG open space and farmland projects, can be found online.