Agriculture is a major industry in New York State, and in Saratoga and Washington counties. There are 1,446 farms in our counties producing bountiful dairy, meat, fruit, vegetables, maple, honey, wine, beer and amazingly fast thoroughbred and standard-bred horses. Our farms are small, family run enterprises that support thousands of jobs on the farm and in related businesses. The high quality locally produced foods are featured at vibrant farmers markets throughout the counties, and are shipped to markets throughout the state and world-wide. A new generation of farmers, some taking over their family farms and some embarking on a second career, are expanding our agriculture industry. New technologies — like robotics, precision agriculture, and Big Data applications — are helping improve yields and profitability. Farm tours, tasting rooms and u-pick operations are bringing people from throughout the region to our counties to discover and enjoy all that our farms have to offer.
Still, it remains challenging to make a living in farming in New York State. A maze of regulations, falling dairy prices, increasing labor costs and high taxes are the day-to-day reality for our farmers. Most have to have off-farm jobs to support their families. Reaching new markets and new customers is difficult because broadband access is severely limited in rural communities.
Carrie serves on the Assembly’s Agriculture Committee, and is the Chair of the subcommittee on Agriculture Production and Technology. She also participated in the Joint Budget Conference Committee on Agriculture. She advocated for an expansion in funding for agriculture research and industry marketing; in the 2015-16 budget, we saw a 12% increase in funding for Ag programs. Funding for important farmland conservation programs was increased in 2015-16 for the Hudson Valley, and Carrie was successful in ensuring that Washington and Saratoga counties were included in the counties eligible to share in those funds. Carrie has introduced and sponsored legislation that helps local farmers grow their businesses. She has advocated for funding for county fairs, FFA and Ag in the Classroom, and Ag marketing programs.
Supporting the development and expansion of technologies, like Controlled Environment Agriculture that can help expand the growing season, is a key focus for Carrie. She meets regularly with farmers and with researchers from New York’s Ag schools to keep up-to-date on the issues and opportunities.