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

August 11, 2010

Commissioner Announces State Eco-Friendly Farming Award

Van Slyke Family of Pike Wins State’s Agricultural Environmental Management Award

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker today recognized Van Slyke’s Dairy Farm, LLC of Pike as the recipients of the New York State Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) Award.  The Van Slykes, sponsored by the Wyoming County Soil and Water Conservation District, were honored during the Agricultural Leadership Luncheon ceremonies today at Empire Farm Days in Seneca Falls.

            “The Van Slykes have demonstrated a major commitment to environmental stewardship by implementing a complete systems approach to conservation on their progressive dairy farm,” the Commissioner said.  “Their early involvement in the Agricultural Environmental Management program has enabled them to continually evaluate the farm’s conservation plan and practices to ensure their effectiveness and coordination within the farm’s business objectives.   The Van Slykes, as well as the Wyoming County Soil and Water Conservation District, are stellar examples of leaders in the agricultural industry and I congratulate them on their achievements.”

            The AEM Award is presented annually to a farm family that practices sound agricultural stewardship by incorporating the AEM program into the operation of their farm business. The county Soil and Water Conservation District is also recognized for their important role in providing necessary technical assistance and resources.

            The Van Slykes have been farming since 1832.  The fifth generation, Ken and Onalee Van Slyke, were the first to turn the farm’s focus onto dairy.  Currently operated by the sixth and seventh generation, today the farm milks 1,200 Holstein cows and crop approximately 2,000 acres of owned and rented land – mainly corn for silage and clear-seeded alfalfa for haylage. 

            Van Slyke’s Dairy Farm and the Wyoming County Conservation District were selected for the 2010 AEM Award because of their demonstrated commitment to enhancing, protecting and managing natural resources.  The farm has developed and implemented a comprehensive nutrient management plan, which is a site-specific plan to help protect water quality, conserve soil, recycle nutrients and manage their farm business in harmony with the environment.

            With the help and dedication of the Conservation District, the Van Slykes have implemented numerous conservation practices both on the farmstead and in the fields including: a silage leachate collection system, a nutrient management system consisting of a covered manure storage to prevent rainwater and snow melt from entering the system, pathogen management, conservation tillage, cover cropping, strip cropping, installing streamside vegetative buffers and streambank stabilization, and utilize Integrated Crop Management and Integrated Pest Management systems. 

            In addition to the Van Slyke’s commitment to preserving the natural resources around them, this farm family is also very active members in their the community.  Members of the family serve in various capacities as town board members, planning board members, are involved in Farm Bureau, church groups and are members of the Pike Fire Department and Rescue Squad. 

            Two other New York farms and Conservation Districts were recognized by the Commissioner as finalists for this year’s award.  They include:

  • Aurora Ridge Dairy, LLC, owned by Bill Cook and Jason Burroughs and families, along with the Cayuga County Soil & Water Conservation District.
  • Leerkes Farm, Inc., owned by Erik and Bernard Leerkes and Karl teRiele and families, along with the Essex County Soil & Water Conservation District.

            With over 12,000 farms participating, New York’s AEM program serves as a national model of how a voluntary, incentive-based approach can successfully protect the State's natural resources, while meeting the economic needs of our diverse agricultural community. The AEM partnership of local, state and federal agencies, environmental groups, businesses and farmers, provides the technical, educational and financial assistance to develop and implement sound farm conservation plans.

            The 17th AnnualAgricultural Environmental Management Award is jointly sponsored by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, American Agriculturist Magazine and the Empire State Potato Growers.

2010 Press Releases