All aspects of New York agriculture were showcased at NY Farm Bureau’s annual Taste of New York Legislative Reception, held at the Empire State Plaza Convention Hall, where over 65 colorful and informational displays were exhibited.
“I believe this year’s Taste of New York event was one of the best yet,” commented Sarah Blood, Economic Development Marketing Coordinator for Schoharie County Planning and Development. “The variety of agriculture businesses and sectors was amazing! The collaboration among so many agriculture businesses and organizations brings out the best of the best in the industry.”
Blood said the event allows counties to show state legislators and dignitaries the hard work that farmers do all year long. “This year we were able to highlight the Corbin Hill Food Project.” Blood explained that the Corbin Hill Project brings Mohawk Valley farmers together and connects them with South Bronx and Harlem families and communities where access to fresh produce is extremely limited. “It truly is a win-win for everyone involved!”
Joanne Dwyer, Director of Food Industry Relations & Business Development Representative at Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York, reported that last year over 9 million pounds of food, produced in New York State, was donated to national food banks. This puts New York State in the top ranks on the national list of donors. Showing legislators where this food comes from gives a louder voice to farmers when it comes to making state laws.
Michele Ledoux, Executive Director at Lewis Co. Cornell Cooperative Extension spoke to legislators about Lewis Co. “We are a large dairy county, home to a Kraft plant. This is one of the largest cream cheese plants in the world.”
Ledoux reported that Lewis Co. annually produces an average of 50,000 gallons of maple syrup and is home to the North American Maple Museum and Maple Hall of Fame.
Ledoux has represented Lewis Co. at the Taste of NY for the past eight years.
“It is a wonderful chance to educate legislators, legislative staff and interested lay people about Lewis Co. agriculture and valued added food products that we produce or make in the county.”
She pointed out that the Taste of NY is important to the FFA students attending the event, giving them an opportunity to meet state representatives and to connect with other folks involved in the agriculture industry and see their products.
“The Beaver River FFA youth were amazed at all the different agricultural products that are grown, produced and made in New York State. It’s a fantastic chance for them to chat with people from all over the state and try different products.”
New York Farm Bureau President Dean Norton emphasizes the importance of the event for the dairy industry.
“The Taste of New York reception and our lobby day are integral to our advocacy efforts,” Dean said. “As lawmakers look to make important decisions that will affect the dairy business, they can hear first hand from the farmers who be will directly impacted. The face-to-face interaction is very important to establishing good relationships with our representatives.”