I am writing in response to Chuck Pinkey’s commentary on the state of agriculture in upstate New York.
While I greatly appreciate Mr. Pinkey’s history in dealing with dairy farmers, his perspective regarding the future of agriculture appears to be limited. Rather than discarding any hope for agriculture, we should embrace the tremendous opportunities that are available to us in this area to support and encourage agricultural development.
First, our region is blessed an abundance of tillable land. Granted, large portions of it are not readily usable, but still the land is here and at reasonable prices.
Second, we have existing farmers with experience, which is invaluable, and equipment, and potential new farmers with funding and enthusiasm. Often, it is not that a farmer cannot profitably grow cash crops or that the market for non-dairy products doesn’t exist; it’s that we lack the infrastructure for distribution. There are many of us who are working on solutions to this problem.
Finally, we have educational resources such as Cornell Cooperative Extension that are more than willing to offer advice and education to those farmers, new and old, who are looking for options or additions to dairy.
Rather than write off those who are interested in continuing the great agricultural heritage of this region, and those who embrace an entrepreneurial spirit (which is at the heart of conservatism), I suggest that we find ways to continue to explore the opportunities that are presenting themselves and support those who want to make a difference.