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…]

March 2015: Agri-Business

Maple Weekends on tap in March

Columnist Jay Matteson

Columnist Jay Matteson

March is one of the sweetest times of the year as fragrant steam wafts out of the top of sugar houses across our state. Native Americans started a tradition long ago that continues today, capturing the sweet sap of certain trees and boiling the water off to make a delicious sap. Since many of you are already saying, “OK, time to visit a sugar house and get some syrup,” you should know that Maple Weekend is March 21 and 22 and March 28 and 29. This is the 20th year of the annual celebration. This harbinger of spring provides an excellent chance to learn about syrup production, taste all the great products made from syrup, and buy enough to bring home and last the rest of the year. [Read more…]

February 2015: Agri-Business

What’s ahead for local agriculture?

Jay Matteson

Columnist, Jay Matteson

We are coming off a good year for agriculture in Jefferson County and across Northern New York. Our dairy farms prospered, the Afgritech Plant in Watertown completed an expansion, and another agriculture-related business opened its doors on Bradley Street. On balance, 2014 for most was an upbeat positive growth year locally and across  the state. As we focus on the year ahead, a few more challenges face our dairy farms that will slow growth, but in other ag sectors we should see the excitement continue. [Read more…]

Young people need to sharpen skills

Agri-business column by Jay Matteson

Agri-business column || by Jay Matteson

During the 2014 Workforce 2020 program hosted by the Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce, Paul Mason from Riverhaven Dairy Farm near Cape Vincent, Mike Hunter, agronomist with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County and I interviewed approximately 45 high school students interested in agricultural careers. As we went through the morning, with students lined up sometimes 10 deep waiting for an open seat, Paul, Mike and I were excited and concerned about the conversations we had with local juniors and seniors. [Read more…]

Agri-Business: Farm-based beverage sector grows

Within the past decade, Jefferson County and Northern New York witnessed a refreshing emergence of new businesses making beverages and growing ingredients from agricultural products. Our region is well known for producing large amounts of high-quality milk and turning that milk into award-winning cheeses and cultured dairy products. Our dairy industry will continue to thrive and grow for the foreseeable future. But the emergence of other opportunities in agriculture has invigorated local entrepreneurs not interested in dairy farming. The question is, what can our region support? [Read more…]

A different type of regional toursim

Jay Matteson

Jay Matteson

Each year thousands of people travel to Northern New York to enjoy the beauty of nature and the relaxing climate and culture that places like the Thousand Islands region offers. With more than 150 miles of shoreline along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, Jefferson County certainly offers opportunities to sit and watch sunsets, fantastic fishing, and many other water-related opportunities. Inland, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties boast the foothills of the Adirondacks, hundreds of miles of forested trails, canoeing, kayaking, camping, and other types of tourist related opportunities. Traditional tourism is a big part of our north country economy. There is another type of tourism that is slowly growing here. [Read more…]

Where’s the beef industry in NNY?

Jay Matteson

Jay Matteson

Northern New York is well known for its dairy farms and great-tasting dairy products. Part of the reason for this is our region has a climate and soils well suited to growing great grass. I mean the kind of grass that cows like to eat. In fact, within 100 miles of Watertown, there are 275,800 dairy cows. Northern New York is ranked as one of the leading milk producing areas in the United States.
But our ability to produce high-quality forage doesn’t only benefit dairy cows. [Read more…]