By Jessica Reynolds Staff writer
The Daily Star
---- — The Delaware County Farm Bureau was presented with seven Silver Key Awards at the New York Farm Bureau’s annual statewide meeting, held Dec. 3-5 in Syracuse.
The bureau received awards for excellence in the following categories: Policy Development & Implementation on Local Governments and School Districts; Policy Development & Implementation on State & National (Federal) Government; Information and Public Relations; Agricultural Education & Promotion; Leadership Development; Membership; and Young Farmer.
The group’s hard work earned it $750, according to Delaware County bureau president Duane Martin. Martin said the bureau’s membership has doubled since last year and is at 320 members.
“It proves we’re making progress and moving forward,” Martin said.
Along with the presentation of awards, more than 100 delegates from across New York took part in laying the groundwork for the coming year, according to a press release. They proposed, discussed and voted on the bureau’s public policy for 2014 and also heard from several state leaders, including state Sen. John DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, and Assembly Agriculture Committee Chairman Bill Magee, D-Nelson.
New York Farm Bureau’s manager of public affairs, Steve Ammerman, said the Delaware bureau has been active this year.
“They have gone above and beyond in educating lawmakers and spreading the bureau’s message,” Ammerman said.
Martin said the bureau did a lot of lobbying this year. He said the bureau held three policy meetings, supported the hiring of additional deputies for the Sheriff’s office and supported repealing the gun-control measure known as the NY Safe Act.
Farm Bureau’s District 9 director, Richard Ball, said Martin is a wonderful advocate for agriculture in Delaware County and has done a very good job at communicating with state lawmakers.
Martin said the bureau members did a lot of visiting and hosting state legislators. He said he worked closely with Delaware County’s adoptive legislator and Senate Labor Committee Chairwoman, State Sen. Diane Savino, D-Staten Island, taking her and her staff on a tour of local dairy and vegetable farms and schools to further educate her on farming issues and lifestyles.
“I was especially proud to have her come up and visit,” Martin said.
The bureau provided South Kortright Central School with coloring books, workbooks and videos about agricultural issues on “Farm Bureau Day,” Martin said. For this event, members set up stations, each with its own farming topic, and finished off with a Jeopardy-style game that Martin said his wife created.
Martin said the bureau also recently created a Facebook page with many pictures, and sends out press releases frequently. In addition, Martin said, the bureau sponsored a few show classes at the Delaware County Fair, gave money to the Dairy Princess program and donated money to get the Delaware County Jr. Holstein Club to the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisc.
“We’re more visible than ever before,” Martin said. “The New York Farm Bureau’s partnership with Nationwide has helped immensely. I cannot say enough good things about Don and Jessie Marsh.”
According to the press release, Delaware County Farm Bureau Vice President Lonny Schaefer was also recognized at the meeting as a finalist in the Young Farmer Discussion Meet, for which he received a plaque and cash award. If Schaefer wins the state discussion meet, he can compete at the American Farm Bureau’s annual meeting in January in San Antonio, Texas.
“I’m very happy that our teamwork and grassroots efforts are yielding results that are making a difference,” Martin said. “It is the most rewarding group I have been involved with.”