January 2016: Agribusiness

Orleans needs a new clean water supply

Matteson_JayWPeople’s lives and businesses in Orleans near Collins Landing are suffering because of a water pollution problem. An underground salt contamination plume is affecting many local residents. They are using water contaminated with salt, and possibly arsenic and other metals, to bathe in and clean with. No one should consume it or use it to cook. Our largest farm winery, Thousand Islands Winery on Seaway Avenue, is in the middle of the contamination plume. It does not use the groundwater for wine-making. Instead, it uses 5-gallon jugs of clean water paid for by the New York State Department of Transportation, to make wine. This is a very labor intensive problem. [Read more…]

December 2015: Agri-Business

How will $15 wage impact farms?

Jay Matteson

Jay Matteson

According to Dean Norton, president of New York Farm Bureau, “New York farmers are simply unable to afford a $15 minimum wage in this day of national and global competition that already leads to razor-thin margins.The governor’s proposal will increase costs on farms across New York by $500 million, when our business environment is already suffering. This is not the way to invest in the upstate and rural economy.” [Read more…]

November 2015: Agribusiness

Agency cooperation critical to future

Matteson_JayWThe Jefferson County Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board is wrapping up work on a new County Agriculture and Farmland Protection Plan. The county’s original Farmland Protection Plan was completed in 2002 and proved to be a strong guide in how to support our agricultural industry. There were many successes from the 2002 plan, including improved communication and cooperation among the agencies who serve agriculture. In 2002, the agencies involved in supporting agriculture in Jefferson County began quarterly meetings. We called these meetings the Ag Agency Roundtable. But more interesting in the success of this effort is the response we’ve received from the consulting firm who is assisting in the development of our new plan. [Read more…]

October 2015: Agri-business

Dairy industry faces new challenge

Jay Matteson

Jay Matteson

At this time last year, dairy farms were enjoying record high prices for the milk they produced, somewhere around $26 to $27 for every 100 pounds, or hundred-weight, of milk shipped. Unfortunately, the old adage what goes up must come down tends to hold true in dairy farming, too. Data from the Federal Milk Market Administrator’s office indicates that farms are now receiving approximately $16 for every hundred weight of milk shipped. This change equals a difference of roughly $10 per hundred-weight from last year. We’ll examine briefly the impact this drastic a drop in prices has on our farms and some of the causes of the decline. [Read more…]

September 2015: Agribusiness

Tough choices to grow our economy

Columnist Jay Matteson

Columnist Jay Matteson

The past few months have been interesting here in Northern New York. We heard from our elected county officials about tax revenue difficulties and future challenges to maintain services. We saw news about unemployment rates remaining some of the highest across the state. St. Lawrence and Jefferson counties had their own versions of meat-processing plant issues. A planned farm distillery faced stiff opposition from some of its potential neighbors and two planned manure storage structures made the news. [Read more…]

August 2015: Agri-Business

Protecting the fabric of agriculture

Columnist Jay Matteson

Columnist Jay Matteson

One warm evening recently, my son and I drove to Black Pond Wildlife Management Area to take his dog, Jeter, for a swim in Lake Ontario. As we drove across Route 178 from Adams to Route 3, I noticed several small roadside stands for fresh vegetables and fruit. Driving back from the lake, I swung south and picked up Route 193 back across the countryside from Southwick Beach State Park to Route 11 in Pierrepont Manor. Again I noted several vegetable stands along the road. I reflected to myself about a phone conversation I had earlier in the day about what is agriculture and what tools exist to protect and enhance the industry. [Read more…]

July 2015: Agri-Business

Meat plant builds local ag capacity

Columnist Jay Matteson

Columnist Jay Matteson

It is exciting to possibly have a USDA-certified meat-processing facility coming to Jefferson County. Since the 2002 Jefferson County Agriculture and Farmland Protection Plan was completed, several of the agencies serving the agricultural industry in Jefferson County have investigated the potential for a plant and proposals from developers. [Read more…]

June 2015: Agri-Business

Manure lagoons: Fact or fiction?

Columnist Jay Matteson

Columnist Jay Matteson

With a strong dynamic agricultural industry based on livestock, one question always rises, how do farms manage the manure livestock produce? We are fortunate in Northern New York that we have a strong viable and successful agricultural industry that creates jobs and supports our schools and communities. About 200 dairy farms in Jefferson County provide more than 600 million pounds of milk a year to our dairy manufacturers, employ nearly 1,000 people and support our local schools and municipalities through the large amount of taxes they pay. [Read more…]

May 2015: Agri-Business

A few ideas to ponder for our future

Columnist Jay Matteson

Columnist Jay Matteson

In March, a group of agencies and private businessmen participated in a “Big Ideas” session hosted by the North Country Regional Economic Development Council. The purpose was to generate ideas that will allow us to compete with regions across the state for economic development money. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo proposed a competition in which a region could land $500 millon in taxpayer money to grow the local economy and create jobs. As I sat with other “big thinkers” I saw even more the potential for agriculture to help our region’s economy. Here are some “ideas” to ponder. [Read more…]

April 2015: Agri-Business

Our region is one with the military

Columnist Jay Matteson

Columnist Jay Matteson

On March 20, we saw an enormous effort by the Northern New York community to demonstrate support for our men and women who serve at Fort Drum. Much is at risk for our community with potentially 16,000 soldiers being removed from the north country. Even if the Department of Defense cut 5,000 soldiers, our community would suffer devastating economic and social impacts. Before the March 20 public rally, someone asked me how a troop reduction would affect our agricultural industry. I explained that because we, unlike many military bases, are one community, agriculture would also feel a significant impact from a troop reduction. [Read more…]