Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
Jessica A. Chittenden

February 20, 2008

Farmers Demonstrate Strong Support for Governor Spitzer’s Upstate Revitalization Plan

Nearly 150 Farms and Agri-Businesses Endorse $50 Million for Agriculture

Representatives of New York’s agricultural industry gathered today at a Central New York dairy farm to announce their support for Governor Spitzer’s comprehensive plan to revitalize the Upstate economy. Nearly 150 farmers, agriculture-industry leaders and agri-businesses throughout Upstate New York pledged to support the Governor’s $1 billion Upstate Revitalization Fund, which includes a $50 million Upstate Agriculture Economic Development Fund.

Meeting with farmers at Monanfran Farms, a family-run 180-cow dairy farm in Canastota, Governor Spitzer said, "New York’s agricultural industry is one of the driving forces behind the state’s economy. If we are to succeed in revitalizing Upstate, we must promote a strong agricultural sector. This $50 million fund will help preserve family farms and Upstate New York’s agricultural legacy."

The Governor’s Upstate Revitalization Plan will infuse $1 billion of new capital into the Upstate economy. The Upstate Agriculture Economic Development Fund will provide $50 million to promote farmer access to new markets, assist new and expanded food processing opportunities, help farmers be more competitive and aid in the development of renewable energy. To administer this fund, the Governor will appoint New York’s first Director of Agriculture Development.

Agriculture is one of New York’s largest and most vital industries, encompassing 25 percent of the state’s landscape and generating more than $3.6 billion for our economy each year. New York State has 7.6 million acres of farmland and 34,600 farms. The state is a leader in a variety of farm products, ranking first in cottage cheese, second in apples and cabbage, and third in milk, maple syrup, grapes, sweet corn, snap beans and cauliflower.

State Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Patrick Hooker said: "Agriculture and food processing have some of the highest economic multipliers of any industry and makes this industry fundamentally important to the Upstate economy. Governor Spitzer recognizes agriculture’s assets and strengths and is the first Governor to support agriculture with a $50 million fund devoted to economic development. The support is greatly needed and deserved, and will be put to good use in communities throughout Upstate."

Jennifer Kelsey Mills, a fourth-generation dairy farmer and host of today’s event, said: "Whether it’s the area feed mill, the tractor dealership in town, our veterinarian, a milk plant, the local grocery store, or my family farm – we are the businesses that make up rural communities throughout New York State, and we are the reason they survive. I appreciate the attention Governor Spitzer is giving to Upstate New York and the agriculture industry in which I was raised and continue to work."

Dr. Ray Cross, President of Morrisville State College, said: "It is hard to imagine the revitalization of Upstate New York without agriculture. Agriculture is the key to growth in rural communities; larger urban economies, such as Syracuse and Buffalo, are also positively affected by a successful agricultural sector. The Governor has recognized the positive impact agriculture has on all parts of New York and I stand behind him 100 percent on this Upstate Revitalization Plan."

New York State Assembly Agriculture Committee Chair Bill Magee said: "I applaud the Governor for realizing that when you talk about the Upstate economy, you have to talk about investing in and expanding the agriculture industry. This is the first time in a long time that we have had a Governor who has shown a willingness to get really involved in helping our farmers by putting forth a proposal that provides funding for a dedicated agricultural development fund."

Clyde Rutherford, President of Dairylea, said: "Dairylea is very supportive of the $50 million set aside for agriculture in the Governor’s budget. For dairy, we currently have the opportunity to grow in order to meet the increasing demand in the dairy processing and manufacturing side of the business. These funds are critical to create an environment in our state that is conducive to growth."

Earlier in the day, Governor Spitzer visited the Southern-tier counties of Allegany and Cattaraugus to discuss his Upstate Revitalization Fund. With the addition of today’s agriculture partners, more than 350 representatives of business, labor, community, parks and advocacy groups have come together to endorse the Governor’s $1 billion Upstate Revitalization Fund since the introduction of the Governor’s budget. The endorsements highlight the growing momentum, spearheaded by Sandy Parker of the Rochester Business Alliance, behind the Upstate Revitalization Fund.

The Upstate Revitalization Fund is one of several initiatives in the Executive Budget designed to make the Upstate region more attractive to growing businesses and families by reducing the costs of doing business; making key investments in infrastructure, housing, transportation and parks; and making more capital available to New York businesses.

In addition to the $50 million devoted to agriculture, the Upstate Revitalization Fund includes: - $350 million for "Regional Blueprints" to provide capital for creating development-ready sites;

- $115 million for an expanded "City-by-City" strategy that will include new projects and smaller cities so that economic development investments can be tailored to fit local needs and jump-start local economies;
- $100 million dollars for Upstate housing and community development;
- $80 million to restore New York’s state parks – a major asset that attracts business and fosters livable communities;
- $130 million for a variety of transportation projects; and
- $175 million for other initiatives like expanded access to Universal Broadband, venture capital investments, and job creation.

Agricultural Supporters:

2008 Press Releases