State Farm Bureau Conference
4:45 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

What's the Future of New York Farms?

Ashley Willits is New York State President of Future Farmers of America.
Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News

  Some 350 farmers from around the state are working on the future of farming at the Farm Bureau’s Annual State meeting in Liverpool that continued today.  

President Dean Norton lists as some of the biggest challenges, laws and regulations.  The bureau has for two decades fought against a state farmworker labor bill.

“What they’re wanting to tell us to do is at 40 hours you have to pay overtime.  Well agriculture’s been exempt from those for reasons.  When the sun shines we need to plant or we need to harvest.  And those laborers are here; they know that this is their time to make money.  They’re going to be here for five months.  They’re going to work the hours they can work, then they’re going home, probably for the winter.”

NYS Farm Bureau President Dean Norton says farmers are fighting both federal and state regulations that create hardships that hurt their business.

  On the Federal level, Norton gives an example of the Food Safety Modernization Act.  It requires farmers to test irrigation water once a week…which he says is a huge burden and doesn’t follow current science.  The Farm Bureau and other groups are also recruiting who’s going into agriculture.  Future Farmers of America president Ashley Willits knows some young people don’t want to stay on their family’s farms.

“Although production agriculture is so important there is a lot of other ways to stay involved in agriculture.  Whether it’s agriculture education, working in science, being a veterinarian, working government.”

Ashley is a senior at Lowville High School and wants to study Agriculture Education at Morrisville.  The Farm Bureau conference wraps up tomorrow.