GREENE, NY – “I believe passionately in the power of grassroots engagement,” said author Joan Blades.
In the heart of dairy country, Chenango County’s Farm Bureau President, Bradd Vickers is also an enthusiastic promoter of grassroots policy development and local decision-making, as he invited fellow farmers, friends and legislators to participate in their 61st annual meeting. “It’s an opportunity to learn how one of most respected organizations functions at the grassroots level. Local ideas do make a difference,” said Vickers.
The recipe and persistence of Vickers and Vice- President, Harvey Fletcher, Secretary, Rainy Collins-Vickers and Treasurer, Brenda Thall along with local Directors; Josh Lathrop, Drew Piaschyk, Jim Miles, Fred A. Baker, Philip Weiss, Keith VanAlhuis and Brian Tripple has paid off with the organization winning a 15th National County Activities of Excellence Award from the American Farm Bureau. Chenango County has attained outstanding achievements by involving leaders and investing in programs that serve agriculture. This effort has also helped them garner all seven Silver Keys and the Presidential Leadership Award from the New York Farm Bureau.
The meeting showcased the work of the Unadilla Valley FFA Chapter and District 4 activities, the Farm to Fork event, Ag Literacy Day, the Venison Donation Program in Chenango County and other promotional events and programs the organization was involved in. They also honored Ken Smith, Executive Director of Chenango County Cornell Cooperative Extension as the 2016 “Advocate of Agriculture” for his tireless work and going beyond what is required to support community projects.
Afton farm-boy and Republican Senator, Fred Akshar of the 52nd District, and Assemblyman Clifford Crouch of the 122 District were also in attendance. President Vickers praised the legislators, including Senator Seward for their support of agriculture. “They were instrumental in helping farmers through the Elmhurst Dairy plant shutdown problem and finding new processors,” said Vickers.
Senator Akshar commented “that it was imperative to hold the governor’s feet to the fire on his support for upstate agricultural businesses.” The legislators were concerned about the effects of the proposed minimum wage increase, the ongoing farmworker litigation, Ag Teacher shortages and losing Senate Control to New York City Democrats when it comes to funding initiatives for local agriculture. “Get out and vote,” echoed Mr. Crouch.
The guests and Farm Bureau members enjoyed a dinner and fellowship at the Silo Restaurant before the business meeting of policy and resolution discussion and voting. New resolutions voted on included: Animal Rescue type organizations being licensed and inspected by NYS Ag and Markets, restructuring the Medicaid Program so that the local share does not place a disproportionate burden on rural counties, increased funding for agricultural education and FFA programs, strengthening pathways to increase the supply of qualified ag education teachers, support efforts that encourage veteran’s involvement in agriculture and opposition to DEC efforts to enact a “Timber Harvest Notification Law” and to additional license requirements by DOT for producers hauling their own products after processing.
The voting on new resolutions and reaffirming previous policies at the county levels are then taken to the state level and acted on by selected delegates. “Farm Bureau‘s ‘grassroots’ policy development process continues to ensure that the organization represents the majority position of its membership. Policy development begins at the county level with problem identification and culminates at the New York Farm Bureau Annual Meeting with resolutions addressing the issues so that NY Farm Bureau continues to be the voice of New York Agriculture.” This year’s state meeting is Dec. 6-8, 2016 at the Desmond Hotel in Albany, NY.
The Chenango County Farm Bureau membership of over 300 people, continues to work on issues related to agricultural economic development, dairy pricing, outdoor wood boilers, recycling, solar installations, oil/gas leasing, animal disaster and relief, Veterans and Farmers Alliance, rural road safety, water quality and regulatory concerns for rural families. “Farm Bureau is your link to Agriculture,” emphasized Bradd Vickers.
For more information or to get involved go to www.ccfbny.org or contact Bradd Vickers at 607-334-6061.