COUNTY EXECUTIVE ANNOUNCES MEMBERSHIP OF ONONDAGA COUNTY AGRICULTURE COUNCIL: COUNTY LEGISLATOR, DAVID KNAPP, AGRIBUSINESS OWNER KAY HILSBERG & SYRACUSE BUSINESS OWNER PAUL NOJAIM NAMED CO-CHAIRS
May 21, 2012
First Meeting Scheduled For May 23, 2012 at New York State Fairgrounds
Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney announced today the membership of the newly created Onondaga County Agriculture Council. In her recent State of the County address, County Executive Mahoney noted the importance of local agriculture and the farming community to Onondaga County‟s economy and discussed her intent to create this Council.
“Agriculture is an important, $137 million engine in our local economy. I appreciate very much that Dave Knapp, Kay Hilsberg and Paul Nojaim have agreed to Co-Chair our new Agriculture Council,” said County Executive Mahoney. “Local farms support families, create jobs, and preserve open space. Our stores and restaurants benefit as well when they have access to local products" Mahoney continued.
The County Executive has tasked the Agriculture Council with helping to ensure that county government is working to promote and preserve Onondaga County's strong farming community. According to the United State Department of Agriculture‟s 2007 Census of Agriculture, Onondaga County has 692 farms, occupying 150,499 acres of farmland. The market value of agricultural products sold is $137.4 million, with the average farm producing almost $200,000 worth of crop or livestock sales. This makes Onondaga County the eleventh largest producer of farm products by commodity in New York State.
The County Executive has also charged the Council with the task of helping to develop strategies and programs to promote local food regionally as well as strengthen and enhance connections between the County‟s urban core to rural, agricultural areas. Finally, the Council will work to review, improve and develop pro-agriculture/farming friendly policies and regulations that promote urban agriculture and make it easier and more likely for local farms to open and stay in business in Onondaga County.
"My family has been involved in agriculture in Onondaga County for many generations and continues today. Agricultural products from Central New York not only feed us locally, but are exported around the world and represent millions of dollars to our local economy. I am very excited to Co-Chair this Council to further support our farming community and I thank County Executive Mahoney for asking me to be a part of it," said Co-Chair and County Legislator, David Knapp.
“Strong economies are rooted in healthy agriculture. Too often the challenges farmers face every day to bring affordable sustenance to our tables are overlooked. We have a unique opportunity through this Council to identify solutions that will help shape the future of agriculture in Central New York. The ultimate goal is to create an environment that keeps agriculture local, profitable, and a vibrant part of the county. By doing so we ensure that locally produced foods will be available to the whole of our community for many generations to come,” said Council Co-Chair Kay Hilsberg.
"As the owner of one Syracuse‟s only grocery stores, I see everyday how important fresh, local produce is to my customers. We make it a priority to support the local farming community and I am honored that the County Executive has asked me to serve as co-chair of the Agricultural Council. I know that we share the same commitment to local, sustainable agriculture and I look forward to a robust discussion about the bright future of agriculture in Central New York," said Council Co-Chair Paul Nojaim.
The first meeting of the Agriculture Council will take place on May 23, 2012 at 7 p.m. at the Martha Eddy room on the New York State Fair grounds. The public is welcome to attend.