Immediate Release

 For Information Contact:

Wednesday, June 26, 2020

David Andrews

Eannace Calls for Partnership, Action to Implement
Oneida County Agricultural Economic Development Plan

Oneida County Executive Ralph J. Eannace Jr. today called for expanded partnerships to turn the strategic vision outlined by the Oneida County Agricultural Economic Development Plan into a reality.

"The agricultural foundation of our Oneida County economy can become an even more powerful part of our diversified Oneida County economy," Eannace said. "Our Agricultural Economic Development Plan proposes a strategic plan to market products grown here in the Mohawk Valley to the 58 million people who live within 250 miles of our region, create new jobs through establishing a Food Processing Business Incubator and an Agribusiness Center and Food Park, and enhance the lives of farmers whose land has been in their families for generations. The plan is in place. The research has been done. The time is here for new partnerships and new action to build upon our tremendous agricultural economic foundation."

Eannace noted that Oneida County is already a major part of New York’s agriculture industry. The 1997 Census of Agriculture ranks Oneida County as fourth in New York State in the net cash return from all agricultural sales.

"Agriculture is already big business here in the Mohawk Valley," Eannace said. "Our goal is to build upon the hard work of the men and women who operate our Oneida County farms and create new partnerships that will give them added support as we look at new ways to market and ship local products and enhance this vital part of our region’s economy, heritage and community. We know these have been tough times for our agribusinesses. This plan is a catalyst to help improve this critical piece of our economy"

Eannace noted that:

  •   Oneida County has 1,110 farms on over 233,600 acres of farmland
  •   Total direct farm output in Oneida County is $107 million, with 1,650 jobs.
  •   The indirect impact of agribusiness contributed an additional $37 million to the   
      economy and employed another 1,600 people.

To capitalize on this foundation, the Oneida County Agricultural Economic Development Plan, drafted by consultants Wilbur Smith Associates of Columbia, S.C. for the Oneida County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board, proposes several key actions:

Food Processing Business Incubator: The Food Processing Business Incubator could provide the agricultural and food industry state-of-the-art facilities to process high quality local products and stimulate the development and growth of commercially viable food processing businesses by providing the necessary facilities and support to Oneida County’s farming and food industries, thereby increasing opportunities for central New York’s many small and diverse agricultural enterprises.

Packing/Shipping Facility: Oneida County is within a 250-mile radius of 58 million people who will each consume on average by the year 2005, 290 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables annually. Southern Oneida County is known for its ability to produce an abundant supply of high quality produce. A centralized grading/packing/shipping would allow growers the opportunity to access key markets throughout the northeast with the necessary volume and quality.

Agribusiness Center and Food Park: The agribusiness center and food park could provide a home for the Food Processing Business Incubator and a variety of food manufacturers, manufacturers of ready to eat (RTE) meals and home meal replacements (HMR) for the northeast U.S. market.

Support Local Agribusinesses: The retention of local businesses is considered the best and least expensive form of economic development. The majority of the agribusinesses, food processors and distributors included in this study were in the expansion mode to some degree. Some were expanding their facilities two-fold with 30% more employees.

Develop a Producer Agricultural Marketing Association: An agricultural marketing association would provide an opportunity to increase access to technical and marketing assistance and to market and promote traditional products, value added products, etc. on a more effective and economical basis.

Mohawk Valley Promotional Label: The Mohawk Valley has national name recognition, which people immediately identify with. The need to merchandise and promote local/regional high quality product under a Mohawk Valley label should be evaluated for regional and national consumer recognition.

"This exciting plan is a roadmap for the success of our vital agricultural economy," Eannace said. "We have great potential to develop agriculture and create new jobs in our region. Oneida County is unique in that we include agriculture as a vital force in our economic development strategy. Through the support of the Cornell Cooperative Extension, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, Empire State Development Corp., the USDA, our Oneida County Board of Legislators and our Oneida County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board, we will move forward to maximize the impact agriculture can have on our economy."